On Being A Woman – Year End Post


It has been over a month now since I wrote anything here. I am not really in right frame of mind. Anger and pain has made me numb. Excuse me for this rambling and just ignore the errors for now.

kuch alfaz ab bhi seene me hain uljhe

kuch girahen abhi bhi khulni hain baki

hain sawal kuch jinke dhoondhne hain jawab

hain jawab jinhe ab bhi hai sawalon ki latash

Sometimes I feel my life is like an exquisitely embroidered shawl. Richly embroidered in vibrant hues which people see and appreciate but it is I who feels the inconvenient knots and tangled threads of its inside.  When anyone says “I understand how you feel” I say “No you don’t”, you possibly can’t imagine how tough it is to be a woman in this country, to struggle each day, to fight for survival. To live here is an act of bravery and then you see what ultimately happens to the brave hearts who dare to dream of living a life on their terms. What are these terms? you will ask.

 

The terms are – Dignity, honor , equality in all spheres of life, a right to LIVE as a fellow human being.

 

” Ha!, you say, don’t talk about these philosophical  terms that feminists quote. You have all that you need –  security, food, shelter, money, a husband to” look after” you, what else do you want? What is this about dignity and crap? Your dignity is within the four walls of this house. It is in your hand to preserve and protect it. Don’t listen to these so-called “committed/progressive women” these “feminists from women’s Organisations” they will try to lead you astray, they will break your home and fill your head with shitty ideas that will only take wrong decisions.  Dress”modestly” . It is because of these “dented, painted disco going women” that all these cases of rape and molestation happen.Stay within your boundaries, follow traditions and norms set by society for their women, know your duties and follow the moral code. If you do all this then only you can give good values to your children. God has been kind to you and given you two boys. Thank God for not burdening you with a daughter. Don’t talk to the neighbors, make only a few friends (although we don’t see the need of it) and mind you they should not be men. You are a married woman and your commitment is only towards your husband, children and in-laws. Your parents? Their son will look after them, it is his job not yours. Now you are part of this family and nothing else matters. Remember that silence and patience, tolerance and abiding to the wishes of your husband is the utmost priority in your life even above your own self for that self is also now His and not yours anymore.

Do you get what I am saying ?”

 

“Well,  yes I do see it. I followed it like an idiot for a major part of my life and screwed it. Now I intend to trash your “Codes for an Indian Woman” and chart my path make my own rules, take my own decisions, Live My Life.”

 

“What? Then you are not a good wife, daughter, DIL, and mother, you are not even a good woman. See, this is what happens when women are let loose. When they gain access to public spaces and get exposed to things like Internet. This is what corrupted you. Now your head is filled with all those lofty notions of independent living and all the crap about women’s rights. Mark my words, you will suffer, realize your mistake within no time and come back on your knees.”

 

***

“If that is what you think, Shame On You.  I do not wish to be labelled as a “Good woman” by Your Standards. I will sell myself if I have to and live under the open sky if push comes to shove but I will not give in now and will not come back to this prison with invisible bars and barbed web of rules designed to keep me in hold all through my life, that’s a promise.”

2011 saw emergence of a new Me.

Many women are not living their dreams because they are living their fears.

 

Isolation, restriction, guilt, humiliation, denial, continuous controlling and criticism and  lack of empathy, love, companionship, shattering of a dream of ” a life long relationship based on mutual respect” breaks them. Emotional, mental tortured is hard to explain due to lack of  ” solid evidence” . 
Emotional Abuse comes silently most of the times camouflaged as “love, betterment, moral duty, guilt, emotional blackmail, and marital rape. Silence helps it breed and dig its claws deeper.
In our country ‘thinking’ for oneself is not encouraged. It’s always conformity & herd mentality. The  moment a woman begins to voice her thoughts she is condemned, ridiculed & told to shut up. If she rebels , her condition is even worse.
Does that mean we keep suffering ?
NO.
 Trust me it is better to raise your voice and make your life worthy than suffer and reinforce the fact that women can be used as objects and treated like an old newspaper.
Two years have passed since I cut those silken chains and  moved out to rediscover myself as a woman , as a person, as a human being. I had to pay the price. I had to leave my boys behind.
“What kind of mother is she? So insensitive and unconcerned, so selfish.”  I still hear it but in hushed voices.
Emergence of new woman who can defy everything that binds her and yet be happy is a painful, uphill task.
Today when I sit and look back I know I was privileged. I had friends who stood by me like a rock, I had patronage to be economically independent in some way after a gap of 22 years. I had a family to go back to though it was a halfhearted acceptance.
It is easy to say what took you so long? It is easy to say ” Hang in there, everything will be fine”, it is easy to sympathize but it takes immense courage to hold the hand of someone who is defying and rebelling against the system. I was privileged in more than one ways to have people with such strength.
I owe it to them as much as I owe it to myself .
 If anyone thinks it is selfish to think about oneself, to dream, to have desires then so be it.
I am selfish. I can’t deny the love I am supposed to give myself. It would be utterly dishonest to do so and if I am dishonest to myself how will I ever be honest to others?
I believed and hoped my boys understood. They stood by me.
They did not have a choice.
They said nothing.
It is tough to be separated in such manner. The guilt ate into the fiber of my being  day and night. It still does. But I had to make a choice – To live or to exist. I chose the first.
I have a lot to thank for, lot of people to offer my gratitude for helping me be myself but the battle is not won yet. Even after two years I   have one foot in the past and one in present. Sometimes I see myself at the periphery of a void at others I feel absolutely thrilled by what I have achieved in last one year. I have been able to break many mental barriers. It has been a productive year in many ways but still something is amiss. I have not been able to completely shake off the layers that hide the real me stirring and quivering underneath in want of  release. A lot remains entangled and knotted not just due to the rotten system we are part of but also because of my own failing to regain the confidence and courage. I am still a sucker of emotions, still vulnerable to the core, still seeking approval when I shouldn’t.
I took the step in direction of change but it seems like a move from a smaller prison to a larger one. A little more space to breathe and move about but still confined. It makes me question my decision. I lose my footing and begin to slip back. It scares me to venture into a society where every moment women are violated, sometimes so brutally.
Physical rape is just one aspect of VAW, the society we live in and are part of strips the female of their species  of a dignified life from the time she is conceived. Some live through the horror of it till they cough last and some are spared that trauma by getting  murdered in the womb itself.  There is only a small percentage that breathes the free air and lives as desire.
As we step into another year my thoughts are with all the women who are facing a challenge to free themselves of the chains that bind them, who are daring to break the silence despite of the risks involved, who are struggling to make a place for themselves  within the culture of violent subjugation and male dominated power structure around which everything revolves and in which women die many times over every day. Most of the times unheard, unsung. There voices stilled. I am thinking about the lack of a support system for those who have the spark to stand up for their rights and fight against the system.
I am not just thinking of women’s rights and gender violence but also about  gay rights, racism, casteism and coexistence which doesn’t exist in our society. I am thinking of equal opportunities, paid employment for women ( just 14.5 %paid employment as compared to men speaks volumes about the structure of our society. 2 million women lost their jobs in last five years), basic education,  basic hygiene and medical facilities. I am thinking of children and the crimes against them. Earlier too there have been catalyst who have shown harsh light on the stinking rotten interiors of our society. Earlier too there have been movements against every damn issue which is shoved under the carpet, How many more ? ? How many wake up calls, How many lives cut short before the change finally occurs?
Will there ever be one single day when a woman will feel safe in this country and breathe easy? When her security and self-respect will not be ground to dust? Will we ever be rid of our sexist culture? Unfortunately when I ask these questions the city that comes to mind is the city in which I have lived for more than forty years – the national capital Delhi.  Not a single moment of my life I have felt secure here. Fear has been a constant companion since I began to move out in public spaces. Fear of those so-called “protectors”. It started when I joined school and continues till now.
As I write this last post of this year I am wondering what lies ahead for the women of India, for me as an individual.  I know it will take a lot of effort and time to completely overhaul the mindset of people to bring some much-needed positive changes but I can begin with myself and my life. It is a rough path that I have chosen but am not giving up. Ever.
Here are two brilliant articles for you to read and ponder upon as I take your leave.
He says among other things,” Men abuse women in every society, but few males do it with as much impunity, violence and regularity as the Indian male.”
(TRUST ME IT IS TRUE)
And
The problem is us  by zigzactly
I have not been regular with my posts but I know you will understand. In a struggle to find my footing I have to sometimes give priority to other important issues that I am dealing with. Thank you for supporting me in all good and bad times and for encouraging me by reading and commenting. I appreciate it very much.
Do something constructive in the coming year.
Have the moral courage to Defy what in Unjust. Don’t be a performer.
You can view all the Previous Entries about being a woman and other social issues HERE 

Walk The Talk – Marriage , Our National Obsession


Looking for a “suitable” prospective bride or groom for their children is an obsession with Indian parents. It doesn’t matter if they are conservative or liberal. Weddings, social gatherings are the breeding grounds for matchmaking. Keen eyes watch all your movements and scan you like an X-ray machine to see if you can fit into the role of a ‘good bahu or demand ‘for their family. There is an obsession to “marry off” the youngster as early as possible. The term itself puts me off.

No sooner is the child born, parents start dreaming of his/her marriage. In case of girls the scenario is worse. Even the most liberated parents spend most of their time planning the marriage of their children.  It is considered a moral duty to quickly fix a match and make sure that the child is ‘settled’.  I have seen many parents and grandparents pestering youngsters to get married. I have met frustrated parents fighting losing battles with kids when they decide either to not marry or they find a life partner of their choice hence shattering all dream castles of a grand wedding of “their” choice. It seems as if Matrimony is the most important event of human life.

The obsession begins from childbirth. It differs from one region to another but the entire nation suffers from it except maybe the North Eastern states. Money is put in various saving schemes specially tailored for this grand event, gold accumulated, children advised to choose their career with care so it’s easy to find a “good catch” in the “marriage market”. If one is parent of a girl then the responsibility to find her a “good home” and train her to become “a good wife and DIL” becomes the top most priority but that is another long story.

The moment kids finish high school the pressure starts building up on them. Everything revolves around one thing – marriage. Family, relatives, everyone suddenly becomes concerned to terminate their brahamachaya status and push them into grahasth status and it doesn’t end there. Then there is an urgency to have a grandchild and then the second grandchild so that they can be subjected to the same pressure. It’s a social let down if a friend’s daughter or son gets married and you are still fighting to coax yours to agree. It’s considered a stigma if your child crosses the “marriageable age”. The rants are endless and emotional drama worse than what the daily soaps on TV churn out. Torn between their desires, parental aspirations and societal pressures the youngsters don’t know where to head.

Satyamev Jayate ‘s episode on Love marriages had just finished and I was discussing it with my son when the bell rang.

“Hey, can you spare some time for me, I need to talk. Can we go out?” The young man at the door, a friend’s son, seemed disturbed.

“Sure thing my boy”, I said and we decided to walk to the local mall.

“What’s eating you?” I asked.

He threw up his hands in the air.

I told them to give me a break.  “I do not wish to marry and when or If I do I will find a girl for myself. They created a ruckus and I just walked out. There is a limit to everything. First they don’t like my choice of subjects, then they have problem with my career choice and now this”.

He was in a bad mood and I could see why. Barely in his twenties, he was subjected to the ‘career/ marriage and moral talk’ torture every day.

“I am sick of it. They push me just because they were married off early. It’s like “we couldn’t have our way so we won’t let you have it”. What crap is this”?

I completely agreed with him. Knowing the kind of family he belonged to.

“Now the latest is,” Do you have a girlfriend? What community? Will you marry her? Do her parents know? We won’t allow a “love marriage”. “Find someone from your own community. Don’t go for live in or fall for girl of other religion/ caste”. Why do you want to be an artist? Why not MBA?

I am done”.

I asked him if he can stand up against the pressure and pursue his dreams.

“Of course I won’t give in. It’s a matter of my life but think about all those who can’t. I mean, among my friends, everyone has the same story to tell about themselves or an older sibling. Girls get more harassed than boys. They are pressurized to follow a certain moral code. Boundaries are set. The moment they reach teens, their mothers get obsessed with their every move. Like watch dogs the parents monitor everything so the girl can later be ‘ shown off’ as a ‘ homely , demure’ person who can cook, clean, satisfy her husband , have babies and care for her elders. You won’t believe that even those girls who come from so-called ‘modern’ backgrounds have a certain code of conduct which they Have To follow. Why do you think they lie and make stories to slip out and breathe some fresh air? The continuous moral policing smothers them.

Why is it such a touchy thing with the parents? Why can’t they let us be? What if one doesn’t want to get married? What if one wants to marry late? Why being single is such an issue? Why is it looked upon as something abnormal? I do not even wish to go into the issue of sexual preferences. That is one thing parents will never understand”

“Well, know many parents don’t but I have no issues of any kind dear boy”, I said with genuine feelings for him.

“Yeah, how does it even matter, everyone isn’t like you, I feel it’s something to with their insecurities. ” he said thoughtfully chewing the gum.

“They want to prove to themselves, to relatives and society that they can be qualified as “good parents” because they fulfilled their duties, that their children “obey them”, that their children are “normal and straight”, that they can have kids  …God damn it. Sometimes I feel they all have OCD.  Why is so hard for them to let Us decide for ourselves, when and even, whether, we should get married.  ”

I felt sorry for him but was glad that at least he is raising questions and speaking up. The situation gets sticky when young people run out of arguments against this great Indian marriage obsession and give in. Ill prepared and forced into  institution of marriage these youngsters end up being disillusioned and unhappy.

Sometime the pressure is so much that they decide to do something even worse. They decide to marry the first person they fall in love with, without giving any thought and later either end up in early divorces or suffer the consequences of their decision.

Do we see our grown up children as “adults” and even individuals?

Do we care about their dreams, aspirations?

Do we realize that they are not extensions of ourselves and should not be subjected to perform as we want them to?

Do we realize that by making the children feel guilty about not “fulfilling” our dreams and desires and by running them down and accusing them all the time for ‘stepping out of family customs, values’ we are actually smothering them?

Do we ever think that what we as  parents, grandparents do in the name of  “love and betterment of youngsters” is actually smothering their individuality, their decision-making ability, their intelligence and most of all their dignity as a person?

Why do we always have to show our superiority and “expect” the younger generation to abide by our wishes? Why can’t we rejoice in their blossoming?

It is really sad the way we bully the children emotionally and mentally on almost every aspect of life from the time they are born, sometimes knowingly and most of the time unconsciously as a habit. We chart their paths, force them to take the road We choose and in a way make them end up being our own clones. No wonder they try to do the same with their children. Marriage is just one of the many issues which we hang like a sword of Damocles over their heads. The “We know what’s best for you” attitude continues all through their lives and is translated into their dealings with people younger than them.

It scars their lives for good.

In many families where a boy or a girl opts for ‘love marriage’ (usually against the wishes of parents), there is a complete breakdown of relationships. It is unacceptable to parents that their child can go against their wishes and marry just ‘anybody’. Nothing hurts their social ego as this one step. Most of the time the new couple face opposition and in extreme cases have to pay the price with their lives. In other cases, sometimes the families cut off all ties with the “rebel” youngsters and the worse hit are those who are accepted in the fold of family to either keep the social image or in fear that they will “lose” their son , their Budhape ka sahara.

If, under pressure, a girl is ‘accepted’ into the boy’s family, especially an orthodox, traditional one, she is expected to mould herself completely to their customs etc as in any other marriage and  if there is no support from her spouse, romance of love marriage leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

In many cases the boy succumbs to the emotional blackmail by the parents and begins to perform exactly as they want him to, forgetting that he is now responsible to uphold the dignity of his decision and that of his wife’s honour too. The guilt trip is so strong that he gives in with no second thought, hoping that everything will be fine one day. Unfortunately that day never comes in many lives.

Very few are able to create a healthy balance. Most of them are usually in the middle of a tug of war and the boy’s parents; especially the mother makes sure not to leave any chance of proving who the boss is. Interference from in-laws makes it very difficult to lead a happy life with the partner of her choice. Most of the time there is no support from her maternal family too and that makes the situation worse.

Are we responsible enough to protect the dignity of love? Do we really understand what it means in the true sense of the word? Be it love for our children or for each other.

Why is it that Indian parents have such an obsession with marriage of their children? Why is it that there is so much resistance to the child choosing his/her own life partner? Why are young adults continuously pressurized to get married and start a family? (That is another pressure that comes along  … to have kids as quickly as possible and be done with it).

We had a long conversation about this and the more we discussed the subject became murkier and complex.

“I think this obsession about marriage is the root cause of all evils. I think most of the crimes against females would end if This changes.  If the older generations do not push themselves and us to follow blindly the customs and norms set centuries ago. If they opened the windows of their minds just a wee bit.” He said thoughtfully. These urges to fit in and please the society, the regular taglines – what will people say, that’s the way our society and traditions are – are meaningless if we give it a thought.  What is society after all? It is made up of individuals and if individual thinking is changed society too will change. Won’t it? “

There was sadness on his face, a concern for the society slipping into dark ages.

“Absolutely, I am sure if the younger generation decides to break away from the clutches that hold them down, things will get better. I will try to reason it out with your parents”, I assured him though I wondered if the older generations were ready to move forward with conviction.

One can always try.

No More A Trophy Wife


Sharp as mustard

his words stung and left

a trail of poison in my veins

the marks that you see on my face

are the scarred gashes of my  heart

parts of my body hurt

even with  friction of the clothes

I’m used to the metallic taste

of the human blood

“Perform” he used to say

his sandpaper lips

corroded my skin

rapacious, savage, fire-breathing monster

with tongue whipping in and out like a snake

his fangs exposed and dripping

large paws groping, trusting , tearing

mauling and ripping my soul

confused, deranged, wet and slimy

I lugged my pain streaked carrion

meticulously concealed

nothing but  a battered rag doll

with a wound between the legs

who says “time is a healer”

it torments, prolongs

I mulled memory wine for long

filled glasses, raised toasts

got drunk

and then one day

sprawled on the cold floor

I packed my dreams

gathered my hopes

threw you in the trash

crumpled ball of ink smudged paper

No more a sacrificial lamb

or a tasty morsel

a part of your feast

No more a nauch girl

a marionette

a trophy wife

to flaunt

and

keep encased

behind concrete walls

when not in use

I would rather

live on the streets

under the open sky

but will not be used, abused

humiliated, I won’t

become your trophy wife

I won’t succumb, I’ll fight

I will give  up

but won’t give in

my soul is hardened

I am a rock

Sensitivity Is Awareness : Are we ready for change ?


Shivani’s blog post  Happy Periods? Hah!! is a must read for all. Here is what she says,

” If you are calling the menstrual cycle impure, you are calling whole process of reproduction impure. It is nature’s rule, how can you judge it to be pure or impure being an insignificant human? I don’t think girls need to be ashamed of it. Can you men bleed a week and not die working? You won’t come to this world if this reproduction cycle doesn’t exist, and you make fun of a girl and enjoy in her despair? Shame on you!

If our strictly traditional elders loosen their mythological, ancient, superstitious-and add whatever adjective you wanna add-traditions, and men become more understanding and start treating us as humans when we are down, we might really have a Happy Period. Mere saying doesn’t make it happen.”

Taking off from her post and the fact that even when the TV advertisements scream about various kinds of sanitary pads and their benefits I still feel it is something no one wants to talk about openly as if it a “tainted thing” to go through this monthly cycle. One day when my periods came earlier than usual time accompanied by severe cramps  I sent my elder son to the chemist explaining which pack to get.  The teenager came fuming with anger and told  he “fucked the happiness of the shopkeeper and a lady customer there”. I was interested to know more.It turned out that the guy did not have “black plastic bag” and kept searching for a newspaper to stash away “the thing”.

When my son demanded that he hand over the pack and forget the bag etc the lady standing at the counter told him,

” Beta these things are not carried openly. Doesn’t look good. waise to your mom should not send young boys to buy it . It is so embarrassing or at least she should have given a bag or something.”

It seems the young man blew them apart in front of the whole crowd before leaving the shop. I gave him a proud smile.

After reading Shivani’s post we all remembered the incident and this started a series of debate at home.  The taboo topics- Sex education  including masturbation, mensuration, sexual orientation and other things.

It became obvious that the father was aghast that I being a woman could openly talk about “such things” with grown up boys and even share “adult jokes” or tease them. Horrifying .

Well, if I don’t talk about it to “grown up” boys do I talk to toddlers then?, I asked

Why can’t a woman talk to her young sons or for that matter anyone about it as part of discussion?

“Not dignified ” came the answer. “Balls to it”, I said. Hypocrites.

During our talks we discovered how most of the schools, offices are not equipped with any disposable facilities mainly because the thought never entered the minds of men who designed the place.

“It is time India had some vending machines installed in bathrooms in malls, offices, schools etc ” , a teenage girl joined the discussion. LMAO,  vending machines? First let them become sensitive and most of all aware of the natural process on which we have no control. Let them puke the age-old formula that has been shoved down their throats by the elder women of their homes.

It is ironical that women themselves make it look like a curse. Hiding, feeling guilty and embarrassed about it.

Another one made a face,” it is a private thing. I would not like to advertise it to the world.”

I asked her politely, ” is asking for sanitary pads or tampons and carrying them unwrapped or telling your boyfriend or son or husband to get it for you if they are going to the market an advertisement?  Is it not normal to say,  ” I have my periods and need napkins etc. or I have cramps or heavy flow so need rest? Is it something abnormal ?”

She didn’t know how to answer that. Obviously her parents never talked to her openly about it and this view was never expressed. What is privacy and what are socially imposed taboos, are two concepts one needs to be clear about.

When a biological body function experienced by half the world is limited to the confines of home and only between members of the gender experiencing it, it needs reviewing. Making menstruation a tainted issue or something to be hushed up and never spoken about with the other gender is counterproductive and completely unnecessary

It  is an integral part of our  body and being forced to feel extra discomfort or shame about  it  is not only unfair but it  also affect our  mental well-being, productivity, self-esteem among other things

During the discussion the boys shared how the jokes go among male friends about women taking pause from men, looking  like train wreaks and  are things not to be trusted for they bleed for 5 days and still live  and so on.

The younger one said that during their class on reproduction all that they could hear was giggles and sly remarks. I and the elder one were the ones who gave him the real lessons.

It also turned out that major section of their male friends either did not have correct info or did not care to talk about it openly. Even in their homes the topic was ever discussed even if they had sisters.

Is menstruation a taboo undercover topic because it is a woman related thing? Would it become a hot conversation if somehow men began to menstruate? A masculine event to brag about ?

My boys think that media is not helping in any way to make the pea brain men aware and in breaking the taboo. How? Well all the advertisements are women based and if men were introduced as supporting understanding factors things just might improve.

A really good thought to ponder on but will it really work?

In her post Shivani talks of  absurdity of calling a period “happy” and I fully agree with her. It is the most painful thing mentally, physically and emotionally and the men easily blame it on the hormones and get away during those PMS days. One thing I noticed was the names given to the products, “whisper”  a name like this says a lot about society’s attitude towards this important bodily function.

It pushes my button very hard if people use euphemisms for these things. I hate this culture of shame. it is disgusting to see some women subject themselves to self-shame giving in to some stupid deeply ingrained social religious beliefs. .

As we sat thinking on this issue another vein opened. Talking sex is taboo too. Well, talk about it.

Everyone enjoys  a good laugh at its cost, sex is talked about  in hushed voices and practiced behind closed doors, people drool over magazines like playboy and FTV  but when it comes to openly discuss or educate young children a very moral approach is taken.

I have seen parents who are themselves so ill-informed and riddled with misconceptions that they have nothing to offer to their growing children. Also they are too reserved to broach the subject and somehow shove it under the carpet if the kids raise it .

Not all parents though but most.

Masturbation is something most kids learn about on their own. While talking to my boys it turned out that between friend these days girls openly talk about all these issues among themselves and with guys too but that’s a very tiny percentage. Maximum people feel extremely shifty when the topic comes up.

The mindset of parents in so-called modern India is still orthodox when it comes to discussing/ debating sexuality,  puberty, live in relationships and relationships in general, sexual preferences etc.

I was stunned when my son told me that his sexually active friends choose not to use protection even after knowing  the implications of unsafe sex. Reason ? “It doesn’t feel the same” .

WTF I said.

“Is it the boys who feel this ? What do girls say?”, I asked.

“Well , most of the girls are desperate to experiment and experience the real thing  so they agree to it and take morning after pills etc” . He said.

I understand , even adults are curious about sex so it is natural for young boys and girls to be curious and experimenting.

“Pills off the counter I believe ” I said.

Of course , you think they take advice from docs or their parents ? “, he replied.

It sucks.

Why is it that these kids are not guided properly ? Is it that parents don’t spend quality time with their children and that they are no longer role models for them ? Is it that the younger generation sees through the faults in the previous generation and rebels against the system not knowing where it is taking them?

Why do parents think that the child will be automatically educated about sex, is it not their responsibility to guide them?

It is not surprising that Sex is the top search topic on internet by youngsters.  I feel it is a huge risk as internet dishes out a lot of titillating garbage  which these young brains can not filter.

India is still a country of sexually repressed people with half baked knowledge and utter confusion leading to various problems at all levels be it health, society or anything else.

Is it not time to wake up to reality and break the shackles . To be aware and sensitive.  To shake the age-old chauvinistic taboos.

If the urban India is steeped in such muck how do we plan to uplift the rural India?

Child Abuse Prevention Month Post( April)- A Daughter’s Letter to Her Parents


April is child abuse prevention and awareness month. This is an issue which needs urgent attention all over the globe.

This  is my contribution , an effort to raise awareness and my voice Against Child Abuse.

Here is a poem I wrote some time back on this issue.

A Lost Childhood

Do click on the link and read. Leave your heartprints there .

******

A daughter’s letter to her parents

Dad,  you’re no more  but I have Memories of you.

Memories that I will take with me to the grave. I know that Peter would be alive today but for you. It wasn’t a freak accident that killed him. You killed him. He died so that I could live.

I remember how you called me your “ special girl” “ daddy’s little darling” who needed
“ special attention” . I did not want it.

I remember how you made me feel that you belonged to me and I to you and touching and kissing were gestured to make the bond stronger. Only that with time  the bond became a bondage. I  had no option than to give in day or night.

The world saw us as a happy family, all nice and clean and well fed. Loving parents and adorable kids.

When ma was away you made our days “special” by taking us for fishing at the creek. We laughed and had fun and  enjoyed a hearty meal  but then something always annoyed you and you ordered me to the basement and I could hear the shouts, cries as you kicked, slapped and hit peter till he turned blue. I would sit in a dark corner dreading the door to open. You would walk in quietly and call me in the most tender voice I ever heard and then  make me sit in your lap and touch me all over  and crushing me against you. I felt suffocated but remembered that you had bad temper. Submission was the only solution.

I and Peter would sit under the tree in the back yard and silently nurse our inner wounds.

You hated him and threatened him to keep his mouth shut  and he just two years older than me would cook up stories about how his bicycle skidded and how the boys at school bullied him when people asked him how he got the bruises.

He suffered so that You would not hit me.

As we grew up I began to resent  your advances but that made matters worse  and you slapped me, pulled my hair and even kept us hungry for days

MOM

You remember  ma when you went  for your assignments and to granny’s because you needed to “ get away”  from everyday fights and we cried and pleaded to be taken along but you never listened to us?

Even when you were at home  many  times we saw you hiding behind the curtains crying and watching us but you remained silent.

All the “ special dinners” that we had  were indicative of  something dreadful future event.

My body hurt at places which I did not know existed. I bled at times and had sores that hurt.  The more I protested  the stronger he became.

Dad

You had power that you misused  and made us what we are. We trusted ourselves with you because we HAD too.

We were left feeling alone, betrayed, abandoned, worthless, even unlovable.

I hated you mom and I hated you dad but most of all I hated myself.

I wondered how come you never saw our bruises, our pain and hurt, how come you never noticed our falling grades and ill health.

I took solace in eating and smoking , I bunked classes to “ fit in” . Overeating made me obese.
Peter  became more reserved and shut himself from the world. His grades fell  and he always fell sick. Many  times I heard ma  tell you to leave him alone and then I understood  why I escaped your attention.

He took my place to save me the pain and guilt.

MOM

When you left one night  the hell broke loose in our home. We were made to do all the chores , cook, clean and most of all amuse HIM. Many a times we were beaten up, locked  in separate rooms without food and water.

Until one day when Peter  died under ‘mysterious circumstances’.

The matter was hushed  due to His “ contacts” at higher places  and you never knew the real reason  for his death but I knew.

His funeral became an opportunity for me to escape. I ran away from home. I was barely 15.

Dad

Life took its course and today after four years I stand at your  funeral hoping that  maybe it will heal some of my wounds and Peter’s soul would rest in peace too  but some wounds never heal.

Mom

We lost our innocence, our childhood and Peter his life only because You  remained Silent.

 

SAY NO TO CHILD ABUSE


Child abuse is usually classified into three major types: physical, sexual and emotional.

Child sexual abuse has been defined as  involvement of dependent and immature children in sexual activities they don’t fully comprehend to which they are unable to give informed consent.

The Juvenile Justice Act 1986 defines child sexual abuse as interaction between a child and an adult in which the child is being used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or another person. Sexual abuse is not often identified through physical indicators alone.

Emotional abuse is the neglect or maltreatment of children. It may involve a disregard of the physical, emotional, moral or social needs of the children.

The Indian Penal Code does not spell out  definition of child abuse as a specific offence; neither does it offer legal remedy and punishment for “child abuse”. The IPC broadly lays out punishment for offences related to rape or sodomy or “unnatural sex”. The IPC laws are rarely interpreted to cover the range of child sexual abuse; the law relating to terms “sodomy” or “rape” are too specific and do not apply to acts like fondling, kissing, filming children for pornographic purposes, etc.

Even the law for the welfare of children, the Juvenile Justice Act, does not specifically address the issue of child sexual abuse. It is difficult to apply the provisions of existing laws to any case of child abuse as it is easy for a defence lawyer to make use of the legal loopholes to facilitate their client’s escape from punishment. Even if someone does get convicted under the IPC for rape, the maximum imprisonment is a mere two years.  [ LINK ]

This is what the law says  – Laws on child abuse in India

Organizations like Prayas, CRY and many others are trying to combat this issue in India.

Arpan is a registered organization based in Mumbai with a mission to Prevent  occurrence of Child Sexual Abuse and heal those who have been affected by it.

Asia Sentinel reports :

India is home to more than 375 million children, comprising nearly 40 percent of the country’s population,  the largest number of minors in any country in the world. Despite its ethos of non-violence, tolerance, spirituality and a new trillion-dollar economy, India hosts the world’s largest number of sexually abused children, at a far higher rate than any other country. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in every four girls and one in every seven boys in the world are sexually abused, hardly encouraging, but still far below India’s totals.

69 per cent of all Indian children are victims of physical, mental or emotional abuse, with New Delhi’s children facing an astounding abuse rate of 83.12 percent.

It is the least documented violation in our country.

Apart from the sexual abuse including child prostitution and child pornography , child labor, child slavery, child marriages and child trafficking need to be tackled with strict measures.

We urgently need a legislation that deals specifically with child abuse .

There is also a  need for strict enforcement of the law.

Also, parents, teachers and others in the community play a vital role to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Children are the country’s greatest human resource and a measure of the country’s social progress lies in their well-being :

Don’t we want our children to be healthy, educated, safe, happy and have access to life opportunities?

Come join hands to prevent child abuse and neglect. Report any case you know of to the concerned authorities. Raise your voice  and make people  especially children aware of what abuse and neglect is and about their rights.

It is time to SAY NO TO CHILD ABUSE. DO YOUR BIT NOW

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