Relative clause : Don't be silent about sexual assaults
Many women are silent about the sexual assaults on their children for the sake of society She saw it, but it took a couple of months before the...
Many women are silent about the sexual assaults on their children for the sake of society She saw it, but it took a couple of months before the slight change in behavior came into her conscious thoughts. Her daughter was five, always very close to both parents. Talkative, babbling away to family or her dolls, Radhika noticed that she seemed to be silent longer, get a strange distant look in her eyes, sometimes furtive, a look not appropriate for a child that young. She tried to be watchful, to try and figure out when her daughter got that look, or fell silent. It seemed to be towards evening, often when bath time approached, and always when only her husband, her son and her daughter were alone at home. Should she discuss it with her husband? With Manju's play group teacher? Could it be something that was happening in the play group? Radhika decided that she was being silly, that it was just part of the child growing up. She put it out of her mind. But something kept nagging at the back of her conscious thoughts. Then one day, as they played on the verandah, a squirrel came into the house. Thinking it would amuse Manju to feed it, Radhika asked her to come quietly into the kitchen to get some grains to give to the squirrel. Manju started howling and screaming, "I won't play with the squirrel. I hate the squirrel. Mummy don't make me. Papa won't listen. Please please mummy, don't make me". Radhika couldn't make head or tail of what the child was saying, or understand why she was so terrified. She calmed the child but her mind was in a whirl. How was her husband involved in this fear? Why a squirrel? Radhika became even more watchful. She started noticing that her husband too fell silent sometimes when she walked in on his playtime with Manju. An uncomfortable panic started rising in her. How could she even be thinking like that? She loved her husband and he loved the child. He would never do anything to harm her. It took Radhika several more months to put a label on what was happening. And her world crashed to the floor. In the guise of playing with the child, putting her to sleep, bathing her, he was making the child play with his "squirrel", the shy squirrel that stayed inside his trousers, and always wanted Manju to call it out and stroke it. And he cautioned Manju that that was their secret pet, and Mummy must never be told, for she would punish Manju and send her away from home. Radhika was devastated. When she confronted her husband he flew off the handle and said she was poisoning Manju's mind, that it was her dirty fantasies and that she was not a good influence on the child. That she was sick and the children were not safe with her. Radhika did not know what she should do. She was too ashamed to speak with family or friends. She did not want to go to the police. It would lead to publicity and talk. She did not know a counselor that she could speak to. Should she just watch out for the child and keep quiet? Whom could she turn to? Who would believe her? For all purposes her husband was a good man, a good provider and a loving spouse. But this? Radhika finally spoke to a friend, who took her to a woman's organisation that gave her the courage to walk out of her home with the children. She has now filed for divorce. She and Manju both are being counseled. And she has started a job. This is not an uncommon scenario. And many women keep silent, remain witnesses to the sexual assaults on their children for the sake of a roof over their heads, or afraid to be shamed in society. Many blame their children. Others refuse to believe it and live in fantasy worlds while their children lose their childhoods and all sense of security. But does pushing the problems under the carpet ever make it go away? (The writer is a popular danseuse and social activist).