We need to talk By Anjali Kirpalani.
We need to talk
By Anjali Kirpalani
No, this blog post isn’t about the clichéd lines we use while breaking up with someone. It’s about how we as Indians need to learn to talk about pressing issues. And how we need to learn to stand up for causes even if the cause may not be something that affects us directly. Case in point, bloggers who are mothers are more likely to create awareness about CSA.
It is obvious that child sexual abuse is every parent’s worst nightmare. But is it an issue that will resonate with single Indians who aren’t planning on having kids anytime soon? Or will we just ignore it like every other issue that doesn’t directly affect us? As a single person choosing to write about Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month, I am not trying to prove that I am Holier than Thou in any way. In fact, perhaps the reason I am supporting CSAAM is because I became an aunt two years ago. Having a child in my life that I care about dearly is probably what has sensitized me to child sexual abuse.
However, what I have realized is that child sexual abuse is an issue that actually affects every one of us, regardless of whether you have a child in your life. A conversation I once had with my girlfriends revealed that every one of us had experienced some inappropriate advances throughout our lifetime. Many of these advances were made when we were little girls or young teens. One friend in particular had blocked an incident she faced completely from her mind. It was only after she saw a therapist that the memory of the incident had come rushing back to her. Looking around the room that day made me realize that we simply don’t talk enough about abuse. Even though none of us were to blame for the advances that were made on us, we still felt the need to keep these incidents under wraps. We have been conditioned to refrain from topics that make us uncomfortable.
Yet we live in times where we share every single detail of our lives online. We use social media to share our opinions on films, fashion, books and more. In a time when our lives revolve around communication, why not discuss topics that make us uncomfortable but that must be addressed too?
Why not share our tales that serve as lessons of caution for both, parents and children? Why not speak up so that no one else has to go through physical and mental trauma? But before we can generate awareness of child sexual abuse, we will need to acknowledge its existence. Not just in other peoples’ lives but right here in our own lives. Whether it is that tiny incident of the auto driver touching your hand for a few more seconds than necessary or of that time your cousin lay on top of you and told you it was a game.
April is the designated month for CSAAM but in reality, awareness must occur throughout the year. Our work doesn’t just end with sharing one blog post. Our work has just begun. True awareness means noticing when things around you are amiss. If you see a child that you think may be a victim of abuse, bring it to his or her parents’ attention. And if you think the child’s parents are involved, call Childline on 1098 to get the child the help he or she needs. The passing of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in May 2012 was a major step in the area of punishing abusers and defining what constitutes as child abuse in India. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) designated the role of monitoring authority under the Act allows for child abuse complaints to be made easily online on HYPERLINK “http://www.ebaalnidan.nic.in” http://www.ebaalnidan.nic.in. The popular show Satyamev Jayate addressed child abuse in its very second episode in 2012 proving that awareness and actions to prevent child sexual abuse in India are taking place.
That said a lot more needs to be done to stop child sexual abuse in India. Don’t turn a blind eye to this issue. It may not concern us today, but if we don’t take action now, it might just become a problem for us and our children tomorrow. We’re in this together. Aware. Responsible.
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Anjali Kirpalani is a former TV anchor and producer with ET NOW and the author of the novel Never Say Never. She can be reached on HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com and @Anjalikir on Twitter.