Sunday, 27 August 2017

Challenging the myth: "Boys are not the victims of child sexual abuse"

“The worst part of being abused is the betrayal. The one who should have protected you was the one who harmed you. ”

One of the major myths around child sexual abuse is that the victim is always a girl: however boys may be victims of abuse. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse with male victims is underreported due to social and cultural attitudes: boys are taught to fight back and not let others see vulnerability. This fact is also supported by government survey in the year 2007, which was done on over 14,500 students all across the country. 

 With this picture very clear in our curriculum framework, we conducted the workshop on ‘child sexual abuse’ with 39 boys of government school, Dwarka. The session began with the understanding of what will happen in the next 2 hours, reiterating of the agreements so that we can co-create space where we can talk about “Child sexual abuse”. 

“Child sexual abuse happens only to girls. I have seen boys making lewd and sexual comments to girls.”
“Rape also happens to girls”
“They whistle, chalti hai kya nau se barah, masturbate and even blow kisses to girls”

These were some of the thoughts which boys shared in the circle on what they think about child sexual abuse! We then screened ‘Komal’ a film by Child line followed by a brief presentation on the same. There was pin drop silence in the room which otherwise was full of laughter, teasing, making fun of one another or just flurry of questions.

The session was slowly opened for the participants who wish to share any of their experience around child sexual abuse. My mind was juggling between the judgments and the facts- they won’t share it because they belong to the same class, they might fear being judged or laughed over it but on the another hand I believed in the space that we have created from last few session- there was trust, confidentiality and the support.

A boy shared his experience while he was of 8 years where an aunt living in his neighborhood fondled with his private parts, another shared that his elder brother used to touch his private parts, someone shared that his uncle used to make him touch his private parts.

“Didi I have a question; I once saw a girl and a boy making out in the part. The girl was not 18 years. Do you think that comes under child sexual abuse?”
“I have a friend who is 18, he has sexual relations with a married woman who has 2 children. Do you think he is doing right?”   
“The school in which I used to study previously, the PT sir used to beat boys with stick while he used to make girls sit on his lap”
“Oh, even in my school, PT teacher used to touch girl’s thighs, I don’t think they liked it”
“If two people have sex with consent and they are below 18 years – is that a crime?”

Before I could say anything – one of the boys responded, “It’s not actually a crime, but do you think they can take responsibility of the same, also Didi told us previously that the law is against sex below 18 years”

I just smiled :-) we then engaged in filling of the safety action plan- it was interesting to see the eagerness with which they wanted to complete the plan and answer it too! Also they could differentiate between thoughts and feelings around when somebody touches them without their consent. I was assured that these activities have equipped them to fight and challenge the child sexual abuse if ever they encounter with it because-
“Whenever one person stands up and says- wait a minute this is wrong, it helps other people to do the same”

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