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This post is for Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month.
A few weeks ago my husband was sitting on the couch reading a newspaper and I was on the floor with my naked toddler running around. He grabbed at the protrusion between his legs as all curious naked babies and toddlers do.
‘That’s your penis’, I said.
My husband looked up aghast. ‘What are you teaching him?’
‘Well it’s as much part of his body as his eyes and nose and ears’.
At that my husband looked satisfied and pacified and got back to his paper.
In India we don’t talk about penises and vaginas and other body parts so much. We’re truly pros as a culture at sweeping ‘uncomfortable’ conversations under the rug and talking about the weather instead.
A parent is the child’s go to for every little thing. Unless we talk, unless we have no boundaries with our children when it comes to knowledge, unless we talk about body parts that are oft hidden by clothes, unless we normalize the stigmatized topics, how do we expect a child to come to us if anything untoward happens?
Another thing we do very little of in our culture is touch.
As parents we touch our little boy a lot and intend to keep touching our children as they grow. If we don’t kiss, touch, caress and love how will they know the difference between good touch and bad touch?
In India the stats for child sexual abuse is extremely high and could be up to 53% as per recent reports. Since child sexual abuse largely goes unreported the numbers could be even higher. Which means no one is spared. No matter what walk of society you come from no matter if you have boys or girls, no matter what.
Thanks to Child Sexual Abuse Awareness month the stories are all crawling out of the woodwork and they are all horrible and really sickening to the core. The newspapers so frequently report stories of a child being raped by her father that we almost skimp through to get to another part of the paper.
Imagine the child being so alone so terrified so frightened and the worse of all, feeling that he or she cannot tell anyone or she will be termed as disgusting or dirty. How does she ever trust, form bonds, or have a normal relationship?
How much of that childhood robbed could manifest itself in all spheres of her adult life and rob it of everything that’s good and pure?
Not only are children not asked but also many times they’re not believed. Many a parent or adult makes light of something a child is going through. Child sexual abuse is a sick reality and something that could happen under our nose, in our own home. All the stories prove it.
It’s up to each one of us, every parent, every caregiver to talk to our children, to keep a close eye, and to give unconditional love and keep all lines of communication wide open.
Moms and dads wake up and smell the thorns. Touch. Kiss. Talk. Love. Listen to, and most important believe your little one.
Thanks for reading!