Conversations About Child Sexual Abuse by Muskan Sharma

I have a friend, to whom, I can talk about anything going on in my life, my deepest secrets, and sometimes even daily routine. But this activity, of the volunteer program, made me realize that we have never talked about sexual abuse, and the mere fact of this realization was very shocking to me.

As part of this activity, I talked to 10 of my friends, and this is what I have collected.*Q- Have you ever faced any incidence of sexual abuse?*
A- And 6 of them said straight away ‘No’. The problem here is not ‘No’, the real tragedy was that I have to explain to them what actually could be sexual abuse/ harassment/ assault. They were all adults, but still weren’t aware of whatever they might have faced was even counted as sexual abuse or harassment. And when I was able to explain them (with the help of information I received in webinars), all 6 of them had faced one thing or another.
Out of the rest of 4, 3 have been a victim of rape, and 2 of them are male.
Rape? Isn’t this only a word used in news channels and newspapers and sometimes movies? But the reality is three of my friends have been raped .

*Q- What exactly happened?*
A- BOY 1- So, I was going home from school and a boy(17-18 age) stopped, I don’t remember him at all, I was just 5 years old. He took me a godown and raped me.
Another incidence when I was asked to sleep with a girl (15-16 age), as I was a kid and supposed to be with someone elder at night, and she took me another room and made me touch her at different parts of her body.
Another incidence when a group of men asked me and my friends to do weird and sexual things for their entertainment.
BOY 2- It was my daily routine of going to the coaching classes and I would take the bus, but that day I missed the bus, and couldn’t even able to book myself a cab. And I was in hurry because of my very important test in the class. And suddenly a man came to me and said that he does cab services and he could drop me, and I was in a hurry so I accepted the offer without any hesitation. At first, he started asking me question about gays and LGBTQ people and other sexual questions, I was very uncomfortable and suddenly he took out his gun and pointed at me and said, if you say an word, that will be your last word. And he did to me all he wanted to do as if I was a toy to him. And the most disgusting part is, he even asked me if I enjoyed it. And told me that he liked me and was following me for some days
GIRL 1- There was a guy I genuinely liked and wanted to date and see my future with. But for him, being in a room with him was enough a consent for him to do anything with me in any way even I say no. I thought, he was a nice guy, but instead, he thought he was entitled to do anything with me. I had to let him do it, to free myself.
These were some cases, which shocked me to my nerve.

*Q-How old were you when this happened?*
A- BOY 1- I was in kindergarten when I faced all this mishappening.
BOY 2- I was seventeen.
Girl 1- I was eighteen.
Others between 15 and 20 and some even face some kind of sexual harassment when they are using public transport.
One of my friends even said, what age? I have faced it, and I still face it, almost every time I go out alone.

*Q-Did you tell anyone that this happened to you?*
A- Out of 10, only 1 told. He told his cousin, and even went to the police to register an FIR against the man, but he was already caught because he had done the same thing with other boys also, so I just had to sign a paper that he had done the same thing with me. Others kept it as a dark secret and for many of them I was the first person they told this.

*Q- How do you feel after sharing this? Does this incidence still haunts in any way?*
A- Every one of them felt better after sharing these incidences, And 2 of them are still affected by this.

*Q-At what age, do you think, you will start talking to your children about this?*
A- Everyone said 5-6 years of age. And it was good to hear that everyone wants an open communicative relationship with their children so that they don’t have to face these kinds of situations.

So in conclusion of this survey cum report, the one major thing I have seen that gender doesn’t really matter when it comes to sexual abuse, the victim could be male or female and abusers could be male or female. It is wrong to entitle a gender with wrongdoings or marking a gender as a weak one. And if they were aware of sexual education they might have tackled the situation a better way by telling an adult.
1) Awareness plays a key role in the solution-driven path against sexual abuse.
2) Parents or guardians need to be more talkative about this matter to children.
3) It’s not just children who need constant guidance, adolescents-adults (around 18) also need to be made aware of consent.
4) We are always focusing on how to save the victim, but our focus should also be on how to stop the abuser.

Till then, TALK, TALK, TALK about it.

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