Thursday, Nov 21, 2002
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By Divya Sreedharan
A five-year-old died while being raped by her father.
They had to be surgically separated. What happened to the culprits? Nothing. Bangalore apparently prefers to hide such sick minds and sicker acts.
Things are hushed up because it is fathers, brothers, servants, "uncles", and even grandfathers who abuse innocence.
For more proof of the "sickness", refer to newspapers of the past one week. One report talks of the rape of a disabled teenager, another says a three-year-old was abused.
Counsellors in the City's many counselling centres have similarly gut-wrenching tales to tell. Mamtha Rajesh, who works with Helping Hands, run by the Banjara Academy, says: ''...child sexual abuse is so rampant in Bangalore that it is scary".
Ask for numbers and Ms. Rajesh gives this example: "I trained as a counsellor with a batch of 46. During a `sharing session', seven batch mates said they were sexually abused as children."
Two girls were abused by "uncles" and two, by trusted male servants. "When one girl went back home, her father, who did not know about the abuse, told her to greet the culprit as he too was part of the family." Why does this happen? Counsellors believe that abusers hone in children who are lonely and feel uncared for. Then the `games' start.
The adult tells the child it is a secret between them. Later, he brainwashes the child into believing that she or he liked it. That causes more guilt, more turmoil," says Ms. Rajesh. Worse, the child is taught that she or he must respect that very "uncle", family friend or parent!
Unfortunately, one cannot pinpoint an abusive adult. All mothers can do is to inform their children.
"I have told my daughter and son that it is `not okay' for people to touch them in certain places, and that they must tell me if it happens."
But if a child says, "I don't like that uncle" or "I don't want to go to that aunty's house", the mother reprimands him or her and hushes them up.
That is why counsellors stress it is important to listen to that cry for help. For all you know, there may not be a next time.
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