Why is abuse by parents taken so lightly by Indians?

A lot of people seem to sincerely believe that beatings by parents ‘improved’ them.

Does the fact that children can be easily distracted mean that children ‘forget easily’ and are not affected by abuse? A lot of Indians seem to believe that children’s feelings don’t count because they would grow up and forget it all.

Sharing an email.

Hi IHM,
I would like to know your views and opinions about the recent child abuse case by Indian parents in Norway [link]. As someone who has experienced physical and emotional abuse firsthand from both parents( highly educated) and teachers, I would like to know why is abuse by parents taken so lightly by Indians. Most of the Indians I know are of the view that sparing the rod spoils the child. Now as an adult when I discuss child abuse with my parents, they say that the beatings I received were nothing compared to the tortures they were subjected to by their parents. How can Indians justify beating and torturing defenseless children?

1. I once objected to a young boy being tied with one end of a long rope knotted around his one ankle and tied to a pole (by the roadside in Pune). The father asked if I was going to be responsible for any thefts the child commits if left loose. I asked how long he was hoping to keep the child tied and if he really saw this as a solution. The man looked aggressive but shouted at the child to free his foot and the child did that. It’s possible that the child was asked to put his foot back into the loop immediately afterwards.

2. Another time, we were awakened one morning by screams of a child and saw from the window, at a distance, a construction worker beating an 8-10 year old girl who was running and falling, and rolling and trying to get away. When we intervened she said the child was her sister and she had brought her from her home to help with her baby but the little girl wanted to go back home and had even attempted to escape. They too had tried keeping her tied. There was no way to confirm this but the girl agreed that they were sisters and the couple agreed to send her back home only because they were afraid she would attempt to escape again.

3. A teenager who once worked for us came from Hubli, Karnataka. She said their mother and aunts (and other mothers she knew of) put red chillies in the eyes and mouths of the children if they cried or disobeyed. They also beat the children with ‘anything’ and once her mother attempted to give her away to a childless couple. She said she cried so much that the couple ‘returned’ her the next day. Having proved how she couldn’t live without her mother, she became the only daughter her mother loved. The other sisters were sent to work as domestic helpers, but she stayed with her parents in their village, and was sent to the village (where they were beaten) school till class nine.

The same girl also felt children owed obedience and gratitude to parents.

Here’s a song from Chillar Party that sums up Indian attitudes towards children.

Lyrics:

behala do phoosla do baalon ko sehla do hum chup ho jaayenge
arrey hum toh bacche hain thode se kacche hain hum chup ho jaayenge
pal mein machle hain pal mein sapne hain
na jaane kyun sab ko lagta hai yah
bacchon ka dard koi dard hi nahin…..

….

bas dhayaan bata do aeroplane dikha do hum chup ho jaayenge
jab chot lagey toh bas puch kaaro hum chup ho jaayenge
table se takraaye toh table ko phatkaar do hum chup ho jaayenge
arrey hum toh bacche hain thode se kacche hain hum chup ho jaayenge
pal mein machle hain pal mein sapne hain
na jaane kyun sab ko lagta hai yahi
bacchon ka dard koi dard hi nahin … yah

dilasa dila do icecream kheela do hum chup ho jaayenge
jab aankh bhar aaye toh godi mein tehla do hum chup ho jaayenge
sher bhi kabhi rote hain keh ke palla jhaad lo hum chup ho jaayenge
arrey hum toh bacche hain thode se kacche hain hum chup ho jaayenge
pal mein machle hain pal mein sapne hain
na jaane kyun sab ko lagta hai yahi
bacchon ka dard koi dard hi nahin … yah

Related Posts:

When Discipline Becomes Abuse : Why I need Feminism

67 thoughts on “Why is abuse by parents taken so lightly by Indians?

  1. Psychologists say that abuse is a vicious cycle. A victim of abuse replicates it once he gets the opportunity. Sons of wife beaters grow up to be wife beaters, women born as daughters of abused women view wife beating as normal. So victims of parental abuse will abuse their children. To them its natural

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    • What are you talking? My mother used to beat me a lot – just because my handwriting was pathetic or when i lied sometimes or when we did things – which weren’t wrong – just that we didn’t confirm to her way of thinking. She wanted things exactly her way. Me and my sister used to get terrified. Some times we lied to save our skins – and when she found out – we got beaten even more. It was a vicious circle.

      I am 31 and today when I look back and think of those days…..i realize how much time we wasted trying to improve our handwriting, trying to change ourselves to suit her. It didn’t help. Obviously it was never going to. At one time she even convinced us that we were hopeless. No way i am going to beat my kids the way i got beaten.

      If you’re generalizing – its wrong.

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      • What I’ve read is that most parents who beat their kids were themselves beaten as kids. So it doesn’t establish that all abused kids grow up into abusive parents, but that most abusive parents were once abused kids. Many of them wrongly think it will help improve their kids’ characters.

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      • Mir I was one of the zillion number of abused kids. I did not grow into an abusive parent, but I am told that I am an exception. Yes I have needed therapy, still use spiritualism and meditation as a support system.

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    • I’m not so sure I completely agree with you. In my opinion, a victim of parental abuse would, having gone through what they have gone through, be completely aware of what was meted out to them as children and work towards avoiding it, knowing full well what hurt them? Perhaps some of them might not even have children for fear of committing the same mistakes their parents did.

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      • “Perhaps some of them might not even have children for fear of committing the same mistakes their parents did.”

        Yes – and also the confusion you go through – the helplessness, chaos, directionless feeling – makes you feel not wanting to have kids for you fear them too being confused like your own self – abuse or no abuse

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      • //”In my opinion, a victim of parental abuse would, having gone through what they have gone through, be completely aware of what was meted out to them as children and work towards avoiding it, knowing full well what hurt them?”//

        Not always true. Or else why do we have SO MANY accepting and holding up as right what their parents did to them? Why do we have so many suffering DILs going on to become oppressive MILs? Students who suffered horrible ragging, doing even more worse things to the next batch of new comers?
        I have noticed only A VERY FEW take lessons from what has happened to them and ensure that they break the cycle.

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        • I think there’s some middle-ground to be found here.

          Whether or not a person grows up to be an abusive spouse/parent depends on a lot of factors. I’m not sure that all of those factors can even be quantified, nor am I sure that those factors affect everyone to the same degree.

          Not all victims of ragging rag the next batch. It is always only a subset of the entire batch which is complicit in it. Many former victims become whistle-blowers in their own right once they are in a position to be.

          People who have faced abuser can indeed turn out to be abusers, but they can also turn out to be wonderful spouses and parents. It isn’t merely about what one learns from one’s experiences, but how those experiences affect one’s psyche, in confluence with a whole host of environmental and genetic factors.

          The point is, it’s a bit unfair to generalize, either way.

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        • @Praveen, ” but they can also turn out to be wonderful spouses and parents.”
          I ABSOLUTELY agree. I should know. But I also know more than a fair share of people who have been unable to break the cycle, instead they justify whatever happened and become part of it. I only mean that those people are more in number than they who do break the cycle to become wonderful parents and spouses.

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      • This is the response of a guy I took from an article published about this issue in ‘The Hindu’. Hope it helps.
        Burning skin with a hot spoon was regular punishment to us. I am actually thankful to my parents for these kind of punishments. They made sure that i dint fall prey to bad habits and kept me on the right track. The next gen kids are blowing these must punishments out of proportions. if parents cannot shape the future of the child, who can? i completely agree with comment from John, if the child grows up to be a drug addict or rapist, whether the HRC will take responsibility for that?.
        media should stop publicizing these in the name of protection of human rights. Infact I say, these punishments are a must to make the children HUMAN in the first instance.
        from: Nagaraj
        Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 11:05 IST
        http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/indian-couple-convicted-in-norway-father-gets-18-months-mother-15/article4163847.ece

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    • The Cycle of Abuse theory has been invalidated several times as something that tries to prove an assumption, rather than being evidential. Today, it is merely a pop-psychology ‘argument’ that fodder for popular media trope and ‘wisdom’ for lay people who have no idea about psychology. Unfortunately, this is one of the faulty assumptions that prevents many child abuse victims to seek help during their adulthood – for the fear that they would be taken as potential abuser themselves.

      Children who grow up in abusive relationships are more likely to develop a culture of learned helplessness, stockholm syndrome and suffer from extremely low self esteem or psychological mood disorders in adulthood. Unfortunately, most Indians don’t understand these issues as actual disorders that can impact a person’s well being; and take the lack of any obvious ‘damage’ in an abused person as a testatment that child abuse is harmless.

      It was rather interesting to see the twist in the argument, that a man can be a victim only when the woman is the actual receipent of abuse (the mother). I guess the idea that men can be victims of abuse, whether it comes from their mothers (or fathers) goes against the popular feminist archetype of men as invulnerable and oppressive patriarchs.

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      • “the popular feminist archetype of men as invulnerable and oppressive patriarchs”

        That’s not the view I subscribe to (as a feminist) and no one else seems to have suggested that. I disagree that it is the ‘popular’ view. Most people that understand how patriarchy works know that women can be as patriarchal as men (foot soldiers of patriarchy and all that). Negative stereotypes about feminism do a lot of harm to the egalitarian cause.

        “that a man can be a victim only when the woman is the actual receipent of abuse”

        I don’t think phoenixritu meant that men can ONLY be victims that way.. she was giving an example.. one very commonly stated when referring to the ‘cycle of abuse’ theory in the media (like when Chris Brown beat Rihanna after he had been to Oprah and talked about his dad beating his mom etc). Obviously men can be beaten as children as well and mentally/ physically abused by women as adults too (the latter perhaps less common in patriarchal societies than the other way round).

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    • @ Indian Homemaker and carvaka
      I wish it were, but even when feminists don’t verbalise it, it is still seems to be the underlying assumption. Or so I have observed, from the vibes and implications that I get. The idea that men, regardless of their actual life situations, are always more privileged than each and every woman, regardless of her actual life situation.

      And pardon me if I am a little less than convinced that by critiquing some of the philosophies of feminism, I am ‘damaging’ the gender egalitarian movement. There cannot be gender equality if the intrinsic biases and faulty assumptions of mainstream feminists are not addressed. And also, given that both men and women are almost equally oppressed by the system you’d call patriarchy (a word that I wouldn’t use, because of its implied associations), feminism without a parallell men’s movement would create for a twisted and warped social system where women have the rights of both gender roles and men are burdened with the duties of both.

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      • “There cannot be gender equality if the intrinsic biases and faulty assumptions of mainstream feminists are not addressed.” “critiquing some of the philosophies of feminism”

        Critiquing flaws in a philosophy is essential but is it a philosophy of feminism that men can never be abused directly? What exactly is the ‘mainstream feminism’ that you speak of? Is there one book that everyone adheres to that I have somehow missed? I don’t think saying ‘men can be victims of abuse is against popular feminism’ can be considered an objective fact, even if it is your view.

        You said it’s an unsaid vibe, but I don’t get this vibe. So unless this can be proven to be a universal feminist fact and and I’m somehow missing something. Speaking of this post here, I do not think ritu meant what you interpreted from her post, as I’ve already said. I would have no objections if you said ‘some feminists’ instead of ‘feminists’. The latter is a crude generalisation and sounds more like a defensive reaction to something that wasn’t actually said at all.

        “feminism without a parallell men’s movement would create for a twisted and warped social system”

        Feminism, to me and by definition, is not the opposite of patriarchy. It’s not matriarchy. It is not asking for a system where women have more. It’s asking for a system where women and men are equal. Thefreedictionary gives the following definition: ” Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”

        For example, I ask for equal parental leave options, not an extra-long maternity leave. So I don’t see how this is leading to a warped society at all.

        I think painting all feminists with a brush of bra burning, man hating she-men has actually done a lot of damage. I read so much ‘I’m not a feminist or anything BUT’ from women who seem to be trying to ‘fit in’ and it stems from the stereotyped stigma around feminism. It’s a scandal, if you ask me. 😉

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        • “So unless this can be proven to be a universal feminist fact…”
          I said its a vibe that I get, not an inmutable and proven fact. One cannot prove ‘facts’ out of social nuances and implications. You cannot prove as a ‘fact’ that someone who stares long and hard gives a creepy vibe. But it is the tendency.

          “I think painting all feminists with a brush of bra burning, man hating she-men has actually done a lot of damage.”
          And you think thats what I am trying to paint feminists as? The ‘damage’ has been done by women who use feminism as a platform to express their sexism and misandrism. And by women who didn’t stop at equality, as their greed (~human nature) got the better of them. These women unfortunately, happen to be the power brokers of feminism. But it does not just stop there. Maybe I’ll follow up with one of my own blog posts, since this really isn’t the place or the time. Just note that feminism isn’t the only movement or cause that is tainted because of the more vocal and powerful radicals.

          And I’d appreciate if people don’t use dictionary definition in an argument where we critique the flaws of a socio-political movement. Just because I don’t agree 100% with feminism doesn’t mean I am against the equality of the sexes, the same way my critique of democracy in India doesn’t mean I am a fascist.

          @ Phoenixritu
          No issues. I don’t think it is sexist, just a little warped. The cycle of abuse idea is problematic though, since it is often used as a justification to discriminate against victims of child abuse or rape.

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    • What gross generalization, I know many people who had abusive childhoods, but they treated their own children so well and vowed never to perpetuate it. My own father grew up in a very abusive childhood, but he loved us and never beat or said anything hurtful to us, cos he made the decision never to do that on other people. It is up to each individual to choose to perpetuate it or not. Don’t generalize and judge harshly like this.

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  2. I was reading the article on TOI, and even the Hindu, and the comments terrified me! For some reason these people have said things like ‘the hitting/burning made me a good person, I respect my parents for it!”. Some of them seem to think the arrests in Norway are some sort of propaganda against Indians.

    Frankly, I think it’s brilliant SOMEBODY is taking such stringent action against abusive parents. According to the article on the Hindu, the child was found to have welts, burn marks and bruises on his body. On top of this, the child used to wet himself with fear because they kept threatening to send him away.

    Physical abuse at least has markers that can indicate it is being meted out, and that enables action to be taken. I personally feel it is a step in the right direction, locking these two up. I hope there is some sort of framework in place to trace mental/verbal abuse as well. It is not as apparent, or in some cases, not at all, because people put up an extremely effective facade, but it is absolutely as harmful. Self-esteem is affected, it contributes to depression, and can even drive a person to attempt/commit suicide. Absolutely in tune with the decision taken by the Norwegian government.
    Unfortunately in India slapping your kid is as mundane as eating lunch. And the saddest bit is that the child cannot approach anybody for help because of this very fact.

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  3. “A lot of people seem to sincerely believe that beatings by parents ‘improved’ them.”

    That is a delusion they labor under as a grown up. I have met many (most in fact) who belong to this group. They explain away the harsh treatment meted out to them saying, “it was all for my own good” and “it has improved me”. As if parents don’t have any other way to bring up children.
    The truth is many of them say this when they themselves become parents and realise they do not know how ELSE to deal with their own children. Then they sympathise with their parents and say all they did (beatings and scoldings) were for children’s good.

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    • “children ‘forget easily’ and are not affected by abuse”

      Children NEVER forget and they ARE affected by abuse. In fact the children who say the beatings have ‘improved’ them are actually in denial of what such beatings have done to them. That they don’t accept the fall out of harsh punishment on themselves is in itself shows they have been affected but won’t accept it even in their minds.
      I agree with the letter writer. Indian parents do justify beating defenseless children. Do you remember the story “Rejection” that I had posted some time back? Parents only need an excuse. Parents transfer their own feelings of frustration, inadequacy and complexes on to defenseless children IN THE GUISE of punishments for the children’s betterment. The abused children grow up only to continue the cycle.

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    • Hi Shail ! Did you write this story “the rejection” ? I usually like videos over text but the details this story had were ‘intimidating’ . I almost got drawn in the moment with that girl and could feel as if it were happening to me. Thankfully my parents never raised hands over me but a few teachers who used to shout at me for being poor at math and the humiliation that ran through my spine with every lost question. God! The author is amazingly convincing. Why don’t teachers/parents understand that yelling/beating doesn’t help when you just don’t get the problem which every other student seems to understand so easily. That moment, when the tears blur the ink on your sheet.😦
      To those who believe that children forget these incidents easily: I’m 23, an engineer and among the top percentile in CAT, the math still haunts me every single day. i can solve a 3rd degree equation and 3 digit multiplication in under a minute but if somebody suddenly asks me with a start, what 23+19 is .. I still tremble and find it difficult to answer in his face.

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    • “The truth is many of them say this when they themselves become parents and realise they do not know how ELSE to deal with their own children. Then they sympathise with their parents and say all they did (beatings and scoldings) were for children’s good.”

      two thumbs up!!

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  4. I think the root cause of this child abuse is the extreme cruelty that we, as humans are capable of. All we have to do come up with adequate rationalisations, even ethno-religious violence doesn’t seem so unfair and cruel any more. The fact that countries like Norway have laws against child abuse is testament to his facet of human nature, one which will perhaps take several generations of social engineering off this cycle of cruelty, to be completely obliterated. Countries in the Asian hemisphere are still lower in this ladder of enlightenment, but I am sure with time, we will get there.

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  5. I was quite chocked at how the online Indian newspaper (hindustantimes.com) wrote about the child abuse case in Norway, even though the parents were convicted they write that they were “allegedly abusing” their child.. hello, they were already convicted and it was proved in court. Several of the articles as well as the comments of the articles seem to take the case very lightly, like it’s not a crime and feel sorry for the parents.. Child abuse is one of the worst things that can happen I think, the home should be a place of security and love, not of fear.. well just needed to vent…

    Just on a side note, it would have been lovely to get some short translation of the song lyrics for us readers that doesn’t speak hindi (or the language the song was in)..🙂

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  6. I was disappointed by how the latest Norway case was reported. Even before the details about accusations of burning and beating with a belt came out, Indian media (and their commenters) had already started saying the kids were just ‘scolded’ and ‘this is a cultural difference’. Really? Do we really want to say that burning and beating your child with a belt is Indian culture?

    Also, even after the couple was convicted, the TOI article kept saying ‘couple convicted for alleged child abuse’ and that they had ‘scolded’ their son.. and completely left out the bit about burning and belt beating that had been reported in other places. So the commenters possibly didn’t actually realise that they were condoning a lot more than than ‘scolding’.

    Indian parents frequently defend beating their children. I think the rationale seems to be ‘my parents beat me, look how I turned out. So I must beat my children’. Some modern parents who don’t beat their child will often elicit comments like ‘ that kid needs one tight slap, they’ve let him/her go’. Even more shockingly they’re happy to let strangers (like school teachers) beat their kids. You have no control on why, when, how much or how severely they beat them.. why would you allow that? I do not get it.

    Everyone needs respect and no one should be humiliated by physical abuse, not even children. They don’t forget and it probably affects their personalities. Love without respect is a bit hollow to me.

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    • The “cultural difference” part is sorta right. In India, it is culturally accepted that parents can beat the hell out of kids. And you can see this in action if you read the comments on any of those articles. This will change with each generation, but the change is slow compared to how things changed in western countries.

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      • Nish, you’re right I suppose it is so commonly seen as ‘normal’ that it can be termed as part of the culture. I suppose my surprise then is that people seem keen to defend this ‘cultural difference’ rather than recognise it as something that needs changing. It’s like asking foreign governments to excuse dowry harassment or honour killings because ‘it’s our culture’. I think cultural differences are not always just ‘different’, they are in fact sometimes ‘better’ or ‘worse’.. and I guess I’m surpassed so many people don’t want to see that at all.

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    • @ Nish
      “…but the change is slow compared to how things changed in western countries.”
      I have to disagree. Between Renaissance and the era of civil liberties, change took ‘the west’ over 200 years. While In India, it took barely a few decades. Having lived both in the west and in India, I think Indians, for the same level of liberal education and worldly awareness, are far quicker to adopt leapfrogging social changes than Americans or Europeans are.

      And another thing – without a strong nation-state, a high level of economic development and a cleaner bureaucracy, you cannot have the western level of liberalism without a lot of socio-economically disadvantaged people paying for it with their basic rights.

      @ Carvaka
      I have something interesting for you, if you are interested in trying to understand why it is.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Kohlberg%27s_stages_of_moral_development

      Read about stages 1 to 6 and compare how they relate to the moral development of the Indian psyche. Also, note that most people don’t develop cognitively beyond Stage 4 in their lifetimes (Baron, 1996).

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  7. In my opinion, a lot of this is tied to a cultural expectation of unquestioning respect for an elder. Of course, child abuse occurs in societies around the world, whether it’s Ontario or Orissa. The difference is in the degree of condonation.

    I remember being slapped around a fair bit as a child at school. My parents were quite okay with that, as long as my ‘elite’ convent was doing a good enough job of ‘grooming’ me, but the fear of beating affected me quite profoundly. It certainly did not magically make me a good person, but it did instill a deep loathing of unearned privilege (not the objective of the teachers, I’m sure).

    Just the other day, me and my wife had tea with the married couple that we are acquainted with. The conversation turned towards their daughter, and they proudly recounted the academic success of their daughter at school. As we complimented them, the mother responded that she makes sure never to say such (good) things about her daughter in her daughter’s presence, because she did not want the girl to get a swollen head. We forced smiles, made diplomatic notes of dissent and went back to our tea. I can only imagine what it could be like for the girl. No compliments, no affirmation, perhaps no acknowledgement at all. Swollen head? Seriously?

    The kind of pressure that these parents put on their kids is insane, the justifications for it even more so. This is not the way you motivate someone. Even dogs get compliments from their trainers when they do their tricks right.

    We excuse parental abuse because there is a pervasive belief in our culture that pain and humiliation are acceptable methods of ‘training’ a child to do things a certain way, even essential for the child’s own good.

    There are ways of disciplining children which do not involve psychological scarring. There are ways of guiding them. There are ways of telling them what they are doing wrong. Beating them up is no way.

    As parents, we do not OWN our children. They are not ours to do with as we please. We are intimately involved in their lives for only a fleeting time, a time that is special and sometimes traumatic, but a time which shapes them into what they are.

    Perhaps the lesson here should be to be kind to everyone in the first place, not just to your elders. How someone can be all right with strangers hitting their own children is beyond my comprehension.

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    • “cultural expectation of unquestioning respect for an elder”

      Good point. This is so ubiquitous in Indian culture. I was expected to touch hundreds of people’s (strangers to me) feet at our wedding.. and I just kept wondering how many of these I would actually respect at all if I knew them. Definitely not all of them. So why touch all their feet?

      I have known perverted old men and bigoted old ladies so I know first hand that not all ‘elders’ deserve respect automatically. Neither do all teachers (I’ve known bad teachers).

      I think it’s quite harmful to expect children/ people to automatically respect ‘elders’ and it opens them up to abuse. I personally would teach my child to reserve trust and respect until they really know the person deserves it.. and to question/ look up themselves what teachers teach them (when they’re old enough). I’ve had a good few teachers trying to teach me erroneous things in school. I sounds really cynical, but I really don’t think people automatically become ‘wise’ or ‘good’ with age by default.

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      • “I have known perverted old men and bigoted old ladies so I know first hand that not all ‘elders’ deserve respect automatically. Neither do all teachers (I’ve known bad teachers).”
        Words of wisdom. While we don’t have the tradition of touching other’s feet (as it is considered offensive and blasmphemous), the same ‘revere the elders with unquestioned respect and obedience’ exists.

        While I am not against a general respect for elders as humans and a consideration for their age and experience, I find the whole ‘they know more/better than you because they lived longer’ argument irrational. My father and step-mother always ‘knew’ what was in my mind during my childhood and adolescence. Since as a child, I wasn’t very different from other kids, I actually believed they had a sixth sense. But as an adolescent, I developed a personality and worldview that is divergent from theirs and it was then their far fetched ideas of what they ‘knew’ about me made me realise that the ‘elders’ are at times, master bullshitters.

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      • It is not only Indian culture, it is equally bad among the Chinese. i believe it is at least changing among the people in cities in India but I can see 38 yer olds getting nagged by their mother and not being able to tell their parents to stop nagging them

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    • “As parents, we do not OWN our children. They are not ours to do with as we please. We are intimately involved in their lives for only a fleeting time, a time that is special and sometimes traumatic, but a time which shapes them into what they are.”

      That is exactly what I was going to say. Child abuse is so widely accepted because parents consider their children their property, and so think that they have every right to do whatever they want with them. And this view is not uniquely Indian, as others have pointed out. Recognizing children’s innate dignity and right to be respected as people in and of themselves (as separate from their parents) hasn’t always been around in most ‘developed’ countries either. It was only recently that society and law began to recognize the rights of children.

      The previously common idea of “children should be seen, not heard” comes to mind here. The fact that children may have their own feelings, opinions, and rights (freedoms, as well) was a concept unheard of (and still is in some parts of the world).

      It also has to do with exercising power and control over those supposedly “subordinate” to you – women AND children. I mean, you have this little being, for the most part dependent on you, and will (at least when they’re really young, and naive) take your word to be law. WIth so much power, is it really surprising that parents can misuse it to such an extent?

      The article was horrifying, not just because of the actions of the “parents” (I wouldn’t call them that and insult real parents), but also because of the way it was written (as if to excuse their actions and dismiss concerns about the little boy’s safety), and the few comments I did read before closing the page. It’s beyond disgusting that readers minimized the abuse and condoned it, explicitly. Hitting someone, man, woman, child, animal, is NEVER the answer. As a friend always says, “Those who can’t use their words, use their hands (or belts, or burning objects, as the case may be).”

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  8. I was amazed to see so many people supporting the parents -‘Norway doesn’t support ‘parenting’,’ said some. It’s really scary to see how easily abuse by parents is accepted as parenting, and ‘for the good of the child’. How can abuse -either physical or mental by parents be so easily accepted is beyond me. I guess it goes with the mentality that ‘parents know what’s best for you’, so its the kids who are manipulative -I actually saw some comment to that effect on some site. And to say that children forget, is ridiculous. They don’t and it scars them for life. And sometimes they need protection from their own parents, because parents are human too, and might not always do the right thing, even if they think it is the right thing.

    As for this case, what I find most infuriating and horrifying is that they use ‘cultural differences’ as a reason for the abuse. Such a sad culture we live in, if we assume that it is the right of the parent to do what they please with a child. At least with cases like these highlighting the way some of us parent our children, hopefully child abuse laws and their implementation will change in India – slowly but surely.

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  9. //A lot of Indians seem to believe that children’s feelings don’t count because they would grow up and forget it all//

    Believe me, the children don’t forget it at all! It makes one feel unwanted and unloved by the very people who gave birth to you. Parental abuse breaks your spirit and the invisible emotional scars stay on for the rest of your life.

    My mother beat me nearly everyday of my childhood, from as long as I can remember, for every transgression, real or imagined. I tried blogging about it once but the memories were too painful to recall. I survived the sure fate of running away from home as a child solely because of the companionship of my umpteen animal friends and my love for Tintin comics!

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    • and my love for Tintin comics!

      Nice to see a fellow-Tintin lover. If you’ve got Netflix (or some similar streaming device), you may want to check out the animated movie series.

      Asterix was also another childhood favorite.

      IHM : sorry for going off-topic but I couldn’t resist here!

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  10. Growing up in my home, my parents gave us mostly punishments like kneeling down in a corner for a few minutes, T.V ban when we were slacking on homework or school and d very rare spanking. My mum was always very critical of parents who beat their kids mercilessly or gave punishments that were too severe. However, the worst punishment I received growing up were the shouting and comparisons. It made me extremely shy (I used to be the bubbly, out-spoken child everyone loved to be with), insecure and quite withdrawn. Now I’m older I always warn my mum when she starts comparing me to my friends or going on and on when I do something wrong. Hopefully I’ll be able to get my confidence back, soon.
    You see parents may decide not to hit their kids, that’s easy. But how about the words that come out in anger? Those words hurt a LOT more than whips can in my opinion.
    But then I feel that parents who resort to burning, pepper, chaining e.t.c are people who can’t be bothered with understanding their children or raising them right thus they depend on whips and chains to do the job for them. And this almost always fails cos the child will simply stop the ‘bad’ behaviour in front of the parents and run riot once he gets out of their sight!

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  11. Its a famous parental feeling that “For parents, their children will be always children even when they grow up”. So why are children beaten up only during their malleable age (read: when they are young till they hit 20, in most normal cases)? Why not when they turn 30, 40, 50 an are at the peak of their careers and when make “mistakes”.. they will still be children right? Had that been the case, we would have special cells in jails where mom and dads of robbers/rapists et al. would come and spank their children to straighten them out!😛 In my viewpoint, parents do misuse their power in case of child abuse. They can do so because they know that the child is so naive and harmless that he/she would not get hit back. Also, I dunno why people compare two generations, as in people saying that “I got hit and turned out to be a gem, and so I will hit my child”. May be its just a pretty excuse to calm their conscience.

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  12. Indian parents just don’t get or are completely unaware of the fact that children can understand when you take the time to explain things to them, they respond to reasoning.
    Also, most parents think that they are spoiling their kids by giving them choices, so it is always “my way or highway” or “I know better” approach, which sadly ends up being power struggle more than anything else

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  13. Come to think of it, child abuse could probably be the most rampant form of abuse, given that the victims are mostly powerless. Back in my childhood, almost no one would talk to a child with respect; instead, they were talked down to. And yes, any adult who got angry with you (or angry for any reason) could wallop you, and nothing would be done about it. That said, some kids could brave this, others withered – I think it boils down to the individual differences in children. In a country where might is still right, this won’t go away soon.
    However, children aren’t always reliable sources of information – they have fertile imaginations and could get carried away while recounting incidents. This calls for judicious handling, knowing when to trust the child’s word, and when to cross-check with other sources.

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  14. Parents beat their children knowing that they wont hit back at them.Children should have affection and respect towards parents not fear.

    With regard to Norway case the father beat the child with a belt,what if the child takes the belt and beats the father….

    No child will forget the beatings he or she got from her father/mother.I remember very well how my father used to take out his frustration on us by beating us with a belt that too with the buckle…I know i am wrong in writing this when he is no more but those episodes i still remember.I remember good times i had with him but i do remember those incidents.

    But i too shout at my kids and sometimes just give a whack ,i know i am wrong in doing that and i don’t want to repeat what i had gone through in my childhood….

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  15. I am totally appalled by how many people claim that beating children is good but we need to take into account emotional abuse and verbal abuse too. I have seen this is omnipresent in Aisan cultures including the Chinese with respect for elders and filial piety concepts.

    I know Chinese who cane their children on their butts, I know how they are nagged by their parents, called ugly/fat & incapable of getting boyfriends, known Indian classmates who were hit with belts, look @ battle hymn of the tiger mother and how she supports so called chinese parenting which includes calling your kids pigs or whatever.

    I believe it is an all pervasive attitude in Asia –

    1) Respect age and older people even if they are full of shit
    2) violence is a solution especially against people who cannot do anything against you

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  16. I read a couple of comments above and I just want to add that this behaviour is not limited to Indians. I have had converstaions with people who live in the west who actually believe that parents have a RIGHT to “spank” their children and slap them and shove them around a “little” bit.
    In fact, it is not even illegal in many countries there(spanking, that is.) They say that spanking is not abuse and that abuse is beating the kid. Of course, just like in India, everybody has a different idea of what abuse is and what is mere “disciplining.”:/
    It is bizarre. And yes, they are all educated people I have talked to- most of them women, and mothers. They admitted without shame that they hit their children and they didn’t think it was wrong. And when I told them that there are always alternatives, they said that their kids won’t listen to them otherwise so it is necessary to do it.

    I have had very heated arguments about this topic a lot of times with such people. I have given up now though.. They will not change.

    And as far the Norway thing goes- the parents deserve the punishment. Also, they would have treated a white norway couple they same way. But chances are, they would have, just like others ignored all cases of “simple” spankings. It is all subjective. I for one can’t imagine being spanked…
    Honestly, I was hit a lot at home and have always hated it- and I would still chose being hit by a tong over being spanked.
    I feel sad for kids all over the world.😦

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    • And when I talk about the “west”- I was talking about USA, Britain, and Germany only. But I have followed threads on facebook groups- atheist groups, science groups, liberal groups, lgbt groups.. and they overwhelmingly belive in the parents “right” to “discipline” their children as they want. And I usually follow VERY liberal groups on FB.. If this is the opinion among liberals, I shudder to think of what happens in conservative homes.

      There is also psychological abuse prevalent the whole world over.. We all know about them in India, but it happens everywhere..:/

      Have you heard of abuse cases in USA? That place where a lot of mormon men do polygamy and have 100s of wives and 100s of kids and live on ranches and nobody does anything to them. I have read survival blogs of these people online- these children are home schooled, and taught all manners of crazy things.. with STRICT gender roles assigned to the children.. And they have 10+ children.:/

      Seriously when I read of women having been “blessed” with 12 children and another kid on the way.. and them gushing because “the lord” intended it that way.. Patriarchy disturbs me.. And there are millions of people in USA who currently chose to home school their children so they don’t “divert” from the “correct” path. Such girls are encouraged to be stay at home mothers. And just to supplement the income of the household, they are taught girlish jobs like being an au pair, and that person who takes care of people when they are ill.

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  17. That’s terrible! The only thing about this in the news here (in India) is that the parents threatened to send the kid back to India. Nothing about beatings, welts, or burn marks. Maybe it’s a ‘cultural’ difference, but when you move to a foreign country, you obey their laws: even if it means not brutalising your children.

    My parents never hit me (my punishment was ‘we’ll send you to boarding school’) but my cousins who were hit defend it to this day. It’s mind boggling.

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    • The first articles that came out only had that info. Then a couple of days later I read articles on IBN, ndtv and various other online Indian news sites and except for TOI, they all mentioned burning and belt beating. I think most of the ‘tv specials’ on tv news channels had already happened by then, with only reliquary information. So it was possibly too little, too late.

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  18. Not too long ago did I write a piece on how the average Indian parent thinks and what is the primary question that needs to be posed to him/her. Have any of you ever asked your parents or pondered over why they gave birth to you? In my opinion, the child is not a willing negotiator in the event of his birth. He does not have the freedom to choose his birth. The parents hold the upper hand. How can you expect a relationship of equals between the parents and children?
    More on the mindset of an average parent at http://narcissismunbound.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/the-character-sketch-of-a-parent/

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  19. The Norway crime is disgusting and culture based, of course the parents are morons.
    But Indian culture feeds such actions.
    My dad never hit us, mom occasionally gav a thwack but what hey said was law. We were to respect it without question. Why?? Because a gives wisdom?
    It was their way only. The extended family enabled such behavior.
    Once I broke contact with them and had kids of my own I learned parental behavior from my hubby. How to teach with respect. How to raise kids without guilting and shaming them and how to be there for each other. Something which most Indian parents need lessons on with addition emphasis on non-interference by extended family in the name of wisdom.

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  20. In my acquaintance, a 2 yr old boy is used to spit at everyone. When I first met him at his house, he spat at me twice & thrice & I avoided it. But, when I came out having a bath, he spat from above the stairs & this time I got helpless & I shouted (in fact, I shouted over her grandma who was there when he spat over me from the stairs twice but didn’t utter a single word). I didn’t say that shout over him but at least tell him that he should not do that. On reply, she said that, “he is a child & couldn’t understand manners at this age”. Later she told him to say sorry to me & he did exactly that with his cuteness which melted me. I think, whoever would be there at my situation would have reacted the same way. I don’t know how far it is related to this incident, but let me know how should I be supposed to handle the situation. I am ready to learn it.

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  21. In India we are not sensitive about several things that begins from the woman and child of the house. Hard beating, is one such insensitivity. In western world they try to make a protocol of sensitivity and somewhere loose the real sense. While living in Germany and being a new parent I was asked from first month of my daughter’s birth whether she sleeps with me, then later on whether she eat using hands like we do in India. I always answered in affirmative and included some extra sentences about my upbringing and that being an Indian there are certain things which I would like to pass on to J. Just to tell her that there are different ways to do things and that she is connected to more than one countries and that it is good to have diversity in life. They would then understand things better. It is necessary to understand the thoughts of people when we are moving to other places (intra or inter country). Burns, belt beating are cruel and even in India we need to find ways against these kind of child-punishments.

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  22. Pingback: “Only thing I can can think of now is to take a spoon of boiling oil and put on my cheeks. I will see then who marries a girl with a burnt face” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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  27. Do your child to teach him or her. Lot of parents wants child to work according to their wishes, but they ever tried to learn what the child wants. I would say 90 percent of children at the age of 2 to eight loves games, play station or mobile games and television. But when it comes to study there is a burden.

    Now my question is WHY. What is there, that the same child when he grows up realizes of seriousness of study and he reads and loves the books. A child is warned, scolded, and even spanked if he fails to read, that are the prime reason in him to stay off and hate books, but when it comes to games no act as such. Why a child of five years is interested to go to swimming classes and karate classes even if the coach is strict to teach.

    Study your child and turn reading to games. My only son too fond of television, when he is busy watching it, I do boxing and learn tables of 6,7,8, I find wonder when he switches off TV and learns with me. Don’t scold your child, it doesn’t require, help him climb. Indian mothers are quite fearful of their children falling. Empower the child to make his future, Talk to him in his language, his interesting TV serials, Games, Books. You will definitely find results.

    Dabru Anand

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  28. Pingback: How can forced marriages be prevented when the person being married off is dependent on the people forcing them to be married off? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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