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Title: Child Abusive Awareness
Headline: Most child abuse is committed by the person a child trusts

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On Saturday March 22nd, we opened our office and resource center to the general public for the first time. Amongst those invited were students from Jadavpur University, Loreto College, St.Xaviers College and numerous city NGO’s; all of whom came together to show solidarity for the fledgling organization that has only recently established it’s name in the field of child right’s activism and Child Sexual Abuse awareness through performing arts, intervention, counseling and interactive discussion.

The interactive session was facilitated by members Mirna Guha and Nayantara Mazumdar, both students of Elaan’s in-house peer counseling course, who deftly tackled questions on sexuality, gender, communication barriers between parents and their children, “coming out”,homosexuality and other topics that are otherwise considered “taboo” and not “media-friendly”. It was interesting to note that not one media person chose to support the occasion despite it being a noteworthy one and indeed, a “one-of-a-kind”, given the most recent tragedy ; that being the death of Scarlett Keeling.

Among the solutions that resulted from the session were the ones that involved speaking with parents and heads of organizations about personal safety, involving young children in self-awareness and self-esteem and speaking to both parent and child as a “team” to ensure clear and consistent communication between both, so as to ensure less stress for both.

Elaan ended the session by mentioning it’s tele-counseing details, and also it’s website address (www.elaan.org) and all pronounced themselves as being grateful for the openness and informality provided by an open space and tea-time atmosphere.

The organizers are grateful to Mr.Barun Roy for his invaluable assistance with the LCD Projector, and for his chipping in voluntarily with last-minute help. Mr. and Mrs. Sinha are also to be thanked for their patience with open gates, spilt tea and other things. A special hug to Minoti di for the tea and Blue the dog for being the best mascot we could have!

I will NOT let ignorance take priority over healing and justice.

Thinking about the Government’s recent wake-up call to Sex Education pulls me backwards to this event at Oxford Bookstore which we hosted way back in the summer of 2005.

Dr.Sibnath Deb and Brother Brendan MacCarthaigh attended and provided some valuable input on the past and present statistics of abuse and incest in India and abroad.

The latter speaker’s statements and crackling sense of humor educated and entertained while Dr.Deb’s statistics roused verbal violence in the form of audience members wishing to inflict extreme physical pain on offenders. I recall being asked to speak but felt no need to, owing to the chemistry between the speakers and the spoken with (not to, mind you!).

Here’s the URL , please ignore the photograph – http://www.telegraphindia.com/1050514/asp/calcutta/story_4735420.asp

Shyama, one of the newest and most active members of our orkut community has written one of the most passionate blogposts that ive read in a while.

Do read it here.

Just a suggestion – writing is a double-layered advantage.. How about a Bloggers group that focuses on CSA awareness ?

Any takers ?

Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse: What We Would Like You to Know about Us

1. We grew up feeling very isolated and vulnerable, a feeling that continues into our adult lives.

2. Our early development has been interrupted by abuse, which eitherholds us back or pushes us ahead developmentally.

3. Sexual abuse has influenced all parts of our lives. Not dealing with it is like ignoring an open wound. Our communication style, ourself-confidence, and our trust levels are affected.

4. Putting thoughts and feelings related to our abuse “on the backburner” does not make them go away. The only way out is to go through these emotions and process them.

5. Our interest in sexual activity will usually decline while we are dealing with this early trauma. This is because:- we are working on separating the past from the present.- pleasure and pain can sometimes be experienced simultaneously.- it is important for us to be in control, since control is what we lacked as children.- sometimes we need a lot of space. Pressuring us to have sex will only increase our tension

.6. We often experience physical discomforts, pains, and disorders that are related to our emotions.

7. We often appear to be extremely strong while we are falling apart inside.

8. There is nothing wrong with us as survivors — something wrong was DONE to us.

9. Sometimes others get impatient with us for not “getting past it”sooner. Remember, we are feeling overwhelmed, and what we need is your patience and support. Right now, it is very important for us to concentrate on the past. We are trying to re organize our whole outlook on the world; this won’t happen overnight.

10. Your support is extremely important to us. Remember; we have been trained to hold things in. We have been trained NOT to tell about the abuse. We did not tell sooner for a variety of reasons: we were fearful about how you would react, what might happen, etc. We havebeen threatened verbally and/or non verbally to keep us quiet, and we live with that fear.

11. Feeling sorry for us does not really help because we add your pain to our own.

12. There are many different kinds of people who are offenders. It does not matter that they are charming or attractive or wealthy.Anybody — from any social class or ethnic background, with any level of education– may be an offender. Sexual abuse is repetitive, so be aware of offenders with whom you have contact. Do not let them continue the cycle of abuse with the next generation of children.

13. We might not want or be able to talk with you about our therapy.

14. We are afraid we might push you away with all our emotional reactions. You can help by: listening, reassuring us that you are not leaving, not pressuring us, touching (WITH PERMISSION) in a nonsexual way.

15. Our therapy does not break up relationships – it sometimes causesthem to change as we change. Therapy often brings issues to thesurface that were already present.

16. Grieving is a part of our healing process as we say goodbye to parts of ourselves.

From Triumph over Darkness by Wendy Ann Wood, M.A.copyright Wendy Ann Wood 1993
Courtesy the Askios e-group. Thank you !

Women are as capable of being perpetrators of sexual abuse as men are. An article on Human Rights Violations in Prisons highlights one of possibly many cases of sexual abuse by a woman.

One of the biggest misconceptions regarding CSA is that it “only happens to girls”. That is untrue. Boys face sexual abuse at a higher frequency than girls, say statistical reports.

However socialization patterns prevent boys from speaking about their “emotions” for fear of coming across as “unmanly” or “weird” so there is more dialogue on the sexual abuse of females than there is on the sexual abuse of boys. One male survivor of sexual abuse by his female teacher recalls the confusion it resulted in.. “one minute she was reprimanding me for not doing my homework and the next minute she was all over me. the next day when i went to school, she acted like nothing had happened.this happened till i graduated.” Another survivor says his aunt was very “hot” and said it was a kick for him to have his first sexual experience with her at age 12, but later felt “sick” about it. he now claims to “hate” women and refuses to trust them.

Rennee Koonin writes brilliantly and honestly about her sexual abuse as a child in this online article. What wrenched my gut were these lines :

” When I recalled that I was sexually abused by my stepfather as a child, I was devastated, but I was, not surprised. When I remembered that my mother had also abused me sexually, my world fell apart. Nothing I believed, none of my work as a social worker, educator and activist had prepared me for this truth. ”

The fact that Men and Women are both not immune to Sexual Abuse, and are also equally capable of being Perpetrators is not hot news straight off the shelf. People are well clued into the fact, especially those who come from joint family backgrounds. A separate essay on joint families and CSA is somewhere on this blog, will post the link when i find it.

Jim Hopper is someone i have worshipped ever since i began working on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse. His essays are thorough and well-researched, in a language that is simple to understand. Here is the Hopper take on what he describes as society’s betrayal of boys“.

In the Indian context, where a lot of children have grown up in joint families, it is unsurprising that 80% of sexual abuse cases fall under Incest.

Now that Nithari has succeeded in shocking the nation, stirring the creative juices of media-loving politicians and bringing light to the fact that CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE DOES EXIST, half this youth group’s problems are over.

Firstly, a number of ignorant questions will (hopefully) not be extended in our direction such as “accha, this country is mostly Hindu so how can you say that CSA exists?”/ “accha Pranaadhika (for that is my name), this disease (!) exists only in higher stages of society so why plan rural awareness?/” you got abused because you wear western clothes and indian males get ‘out of control’ with ‘western-minded’ ladied because it is out of their culture”…

Page 3, the National Award winning film , Monsoon Wedding, Everybody Says Im fine , Pinki Virani’s Bitter Chocolate book and now the Nithari tragedy of 2006-7 all serve as public education tools on Child Sexual Abuse.

After Nithari it is interesting to note how perpetually confused the law-making people are looking, especially when it comes to responding to the media. Undoubtedly one of the best articles on Police ignorance of CSA helped pinpoint one of the many reasons as to why a lot of this case is going to be ruined. If the people don’t know what signs to look for, how will they come to a reasonable conclusion as to what happened and why it happened ?

Elaan will be holding an interactive session with the first year students of the Jadavpur University this afternoon. For those who have personal queries or wish to send in their CV’s, the procedure and requirements are as follows –

1. You need to belong to the institute, in simple English – you need to be a Student or Faculty member.
2. You need to devote 15 hours a week for a single week (that’s 3 hours a day) for sensitization lectures and training.
3. You need to report to Elaan on a fortnightly basis.
4. You need to be fluent in the English language.
5. If inducted, you will be required to work exclusively with Elaan in the capacity of a volunteer
for a minimum of 1 year if you desire a letter of recommendation.

CV’s to be emailed to elaanspeak@yahoo.co.in

It is perfectly normal to see an adult interacting with a child in a social situation. Parents and children, Teachers/Tutors and children, Nannies (ayahs) and children, Older siblings and children.

Sometimes, something doesn’t feel right. A lot of women have mentioned things like a “bad gut” feeling about a particular adult’s behaviour towards a child in a setting where adult-child interaction is a commonplace sight,say for example at a park or at the market. In many cases where alert women have actually managed to listen to their “gut” and avert further disasters (as was a case where a woman became suspicious of an elderly man and his behaviour towards a little girl and followed him. It turned out that the man and his wife were convicted serial child molestors who would have still been abusing children if this brave woman had not listened to her instincts and tracked them down).

Affection in any form, verbal, physical or simply via body language and reveal telltale symptoms that something is “just not right” in the situation. Here are a few things you need to look out for :

A person who –

Unnaturally controls the behaviour and decisions of a child?
Forces physical intimacy/affection on a child even when the child is clearly not comfortable with it.. (we call it “smothering the child with lust”)

Harps on teenage sexuality/issues and verbally obsesses over sex and sexuality during interactions with children and young adults
Makes it a point to spend “exclusive” time with the child

Is overly interested in “hanging out” with the kids, even more than their own age group
Regularly offers to babysit and take children out for “treats” and games

Spends excessive amounts of money on the children (gifts,movie tickets,sweets)
Frequently walks in on children/teens in the bathroom while they are showering
Allows children or teens to consistently get away with inappropriate behavior

Is very in sync with current trends and fashions

If you feel that any of the above behaviour co-incides with the behavior of someone who sets your inner alarm bells ringing, do not panic. Instead, take deep breathes and consider the situation carefully. Assess the child’s reactions to the person/people concerned and speak with concerned authorities if required to.

The Blog

Elaan is an NGO dealing with Child Sexual Abuse issues.

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and Incest are painful and unprovoked acts of violation. In India, where subjects relating to sex and personal safety are not discussed, the issue is shrouded in secrecy as the prevalence of abusive acts increases. The objective of this blog is to encourage reading, debate and constructive awareness implementation methods via the 'blogosphere.'

* Feel free to leave comments or SPEAK-OUT here!