It seems most Indian parents feel any knowledge about sex, sexual abuse or sexual assaults would take away a child’s (specially a girl child’s) ‘innocence’ by getting them interested in (or aware of) something they ‘need not know’ about. Being abused is not seen as traumatic or confusing for the child but as a problem because she knows about something she should not.
Many adults do not understand that young children do not have ‘affairs’ with adults, and even if they did not object to abuse, legally and morally, it is still abuse. And this lack of understanding means they can pass moral, if not legal, judgments about children.
Movies and fairy tales romanticize and promote ‘Innocence’ (or ignorance about sex) in women, perhaps because it is seen as a confirmation of their chastity. Does this ‘innocence’ benefit the women?
In the last few posts we saw how we punish homosexuality, and how we try to understand loss of control by rapists staying away from their families, and also what pushes juvenile criminals to stab their teachers. Now read this.
Even an atheist is bound to say ‘Oh my God!’ after reading this.
In the old days there was the custom of deporting criminals from the country. But with changes in Indian law this was stopped and instead converted to life-imprisonment. But what when the moral police of an area try to “deport from school” a little girl in seventh grade?
The incident occurred in Alleppey. A girl of seventh grade from the coastal village of Mangalam is sexually abused by her neighbour, a married man and a father of two children. After the incident, feeling uncomfortable and confused it had something to do with pregnancy the girl confides in a classmate. The class mate in turn tells her parents.
Next day the parents of the classmate reach school, gathering others and threaten that if abused girl – the ‘problematic girl’ – continues in the school, they will withdraw their own children. Some teachers (including some lady teachers) declare they will not go to the class the abused girl is in.
In short, the fact that even consensual sex with those below the age of sixteen is a crime that gets you life imprisonment and that lack of awareness of children below 16 is not a crime but those who take advantage of those underage children are the wrong-doers to be punished remained mere bookish knowledge and had no influence on the educated parents or teachers. Unable to do anything else, the Headmaster succumbs and gives the child a TC and sends her away from the school..
A Sanskrit school nearby in need of students gives admission to the child. But the moral police goondas from the old school do not leave the child alone there either. One of the self appointed moral police appointing himself custodian of morality of the region calls up the school and warns them, “She is problematic. It would do you good to let her go.” By evening she is out of the Sanskrit school.
The helpless parents now put her in a school in Punalur. Taking the responsibility of the upkeep of morality of that school as well, the gentlemen from the old school interfere. The girl is kicked out once again.
Hearing about this incident, a teacher of the old school with little bit of humanity still left, calls educational workers in Alleppy and asks whether they can do something about getting the girl into some school.
Now the other side of the story.
What about the man?
“What has happened has happened. Why trouble a man living with wife and children?” ask the villagers, teachers, media and police in the same voice.
In this place justice belongs to the hunter not the hunted.
No rules or procedures to be followed while removing a child from school has been followed in this instance. That women have rights, that children have rights… nobody seems to have remembered such things even for a moment.
The child is now confined to her home without having completed studies even before she has reached teenage. Her chance to continue studying and return to normal life after her traumatic experience is thus nipped in the bud.
Not only do people whisper as she walks by, she also has the stamp on her that she has been kicked out of school. She may get over her traumatic experience with time, but that she could not complete her studied will haunt her forever. When other 11 year olds go happily to school, all she can do is watch them and cry over her bad fate. But is she even old enough to understand what fate is?
Ganga teacher from her school has only this one question, “Are there school authorities with guts to help her?”
Adv T.K Sujith.
How do you think could this school and the child’s parents have handled this situation better? Do you think there is some way we can help this eleven year old victim of child sexual abuse?