original image courtesy indiatoday.in
For the past three weeks, I’ve been working with an NGO that strives to eradicate child sexual abuse from India. Truth be told, they haven’t had much success so far. Primarily because of the sheer size of the country. And secondly, because in India, we prefer not to talk about sensitive issues; no matter if they destroy the country every waking minute. But, in all fairness, at least this organisation is trying.
This morning was my orientation ceremony in the organisation. And frankly it did more to disorient and disillusion me than anything has in the recent past. The facts were disturbing, to say the least. They slapped me in the face and asked me to wake up and do something. And while I don’t mean to ruin your day with this post, I must post some of those facts here so we at least know the magnitude of the problem. And perhaps the extent to which this country is ignoring it.
69% – that’s 2 out of every 3 – of all Indian children have been victims of abuse – sexual, physical or emotional.
To put that fact into perspective, India has a child population of 375 million. Which means we have an abused child population of 25,87,50,000.
89% of all abuse is delivered by a family member or a friend of the family.
Boys, at 72%, are more abused than girls, at 65%.
And here’s what’s even more alarming: Aside from the figures mentioned above, over 70% of all child abuse cases are never spoken about.
But put these facts away for a minute and you’re left with such myths as are hard to understand, much less believe. Here, children are believed to bring the abuse upon themselves by the way they dress and behave. Children also find it difficult to say no to elders while being abused, because our culture teaches them to obey their elders. Only men seem to be perpetrators of this crime. And so many others that I don’t have the gall to mention.
What we’re trying to do as an NGO is educate people about this issue. Give them the information that is essential to bust their myths. Give them a platform of trust where they can talk about and report these issues and occurrences. Since I’ve only recently joined this team, and am not yet jaded with slow results, I’ve been thinking of a lot of ways in which to take this message across to people all over the country. Through street plays, through talk shows on television, through tie-ups with strong columnists, through various advertising media, etcetera.
I was wondering if anyone has any more ideas on how to spread word about the existence of this massive problem, if not yet completely wiping it off the face of the country – and hopefully – the world. I would be most obliged if you could send in your ideas through comments or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org