Abuse of Power – I

Never thought I would touch this touchy topic but a few weird (co)incidences over the past few days had me scurrying to my keyboard before I lose the train of thought or drive. SO here it is.

Instance 1: Evening visit to a nearby temple saw me warily glare at the temple priest who caressed the cheeks of all the bonny girl babies, and not the lil’ boys making me wonder why. Mothers smiled on indulgently while the lil’ kids tried hiding behind the dupatta or the palloo. The discomfort in some cases reminded me of the pedophilia scandal that has rocked the papacy.

Instance 2: This TIME article on abuse.

Instance 3: A debate with a good friend/colleague who has a eleven-year old on the parenting riddle. How strict is strict? How can you restrict Internet usage/police kids without alienating them? How much information is too much?

Following these episodes were several other hapchance conversations and incidents that finally led me to this post. Sexual abuse is so common and widespread and yet few dare to voice their thoughts or write about this still-taboo topic. Abuse in any form is vile, but abusing an innocent mind and violating their childhood is the worse form of abuse.

Abuse of Power vs Abuse of Trust. Aren’t they one and the same?! When a person in power abuses or violates you physically/emotionally/psychologically (s)he is abusing your trust. It is as simple as that.

Lunch table conversations with female friends/colleagues broach the topic but when men are around the topic is skirted around. Why? Yet, over the years male buddies/acquaintances have shared instances of abuse so this is one area which is free of gender bias.

Earlier days, a joint family set up to some extent protected kids, and in certain instances propagated abuse. It is always a well-known devil who sullies and loots more than a stranger. Some pointers I have gathered from conversations with various folks:

  • Make the child aware of a good and bad touch
  • Let them know it is OK to speak out, even if against family members
  • HEAR them out before you close your mind or ears to what they say
  • Learn to read their body language and watch out for changes in behaviour
  • Sex education is important
  • Remember to TEACH boys to respect girls and Girls to respect themselves
  • Give them more control

I remember the fight our school authorities had to put up to introduce a module on sex education. Some parents even threatened to pull their kids out. These days though the pervasive nature of the Internet and satellite television means kids are aware of sex long before they reach puberty. Social media is the latest challenge parents are learning to cope with, in particular platforms like Orkut.

A wise friend shared this: Her 14-yr daughter insisted on having an Orkut account because everyone in her class did, and the school-leaving seniors wanted to add her on their ‘Friends’ list. No amount of playing the strict disciplinarian helped. The kid had Internet access at school, which was not having porn-filters or blocked/restricted access. This lady offered to open the Orkut account on condition that the child be aware of online dangers and issued some safeguards:

  1. Do not chat online with strangers
  2. Do not post/share personal information especially phone numbers, photos, residence address, school address and other details
  3. Restricted time on the Net
  4. Do not invite/accept invitations from people you do not know
  5. Finally, to drive home her point she showed/illustrated the lil’ girl with instances of kids becoming prey to pedophiles and how the virtual world can steal your real identity if used by the wrong people.

I came across TULIR during one of my story-hunting expeditions a few years back. Though unrelated to what I was looking for at the time, I have since supported their cause and this is an attempt to make more people aware of and accept that the evil of Sexual Abuse is very much there, and it is up to us to protect our young, and old so Life as it is meant to be can be cherished and LIVED…….. please do share your thoughts.

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11 thoughts on “Abuse of Power – I

  1. Deeply rooted traditional values and unquestionable religious beliefs and practices are being blindly followed to such an extent that such child abuses’ go unnoticed; as you have pointed it out. May be the reason could also be ignorance, or like in the TIME article, misplaced sense of sacrifice to uphold one’s family honor.

    But here in India, Religion and Tradition are the biggest culprits for many such abuses’ of power and unfortunately they are the biggest stumbling blocks too, for any change to happen. People will not give them up in spite of being aware (read: well educated). More often than not, people will simply shrug their shoulders and carry on as if nothing has happened. Why? Cause they are afraid to question, do not know how to deal with it, and lastly lets do what everybody’s doing.

    The best we can do is at least educate our lil’ ones and hope they pass it on…. hopefully bringing about a silent change.

    • @Rocksta. More power to folks like you who speak out and initiate a change. Several ppl who read this decided to remain silent instead of leaving comments. Some sed it was a personal choice while the underlying subtext from a few was deep shame and taboo associated with the topic of Child Sexual Abuse. We must as a Race stop being submissive and be more preemptive and vocal, only then can we initiate a Change.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Abuse of Power – I « The Glass Ceiling Blog -- Topsy.com

  3. it is a fine line. what if the child is not aware of sex or porn and the parents were the first one to teach her what is what? how does a child differ between a ‘good’ touch and a ‘bad’ touch? there is a nasty touch but kids are aware of that automatically as part of their growing up process. we all were told it is a shamelful thing to roam around ‘naked’ when we were kids.
    now, what is a ‘good’ touch gets interpreted by the kid as a ‘bad’ touch? how much weight you are ready to give to your kid’s interpretation of a touch.
    it is a complicated issue in which, i feel status quo should be maintained in certain issues.
    at the same time, our world is a changed one, thanks to the Internet. yes, what your friend prescribed to her kid is a very valid point and could be cited as primary rules in other instances.
    as per ‘abuse’ is concerned … i refuse to believe that the modern women in offices are mute spectators of abuse. in fact, as women became conscious of their rights, the abuses about them have automatically come down drastically. men are instead afraid of their women colleagues because most of them are some sort of feminist and suffer from ‘the world is here to screw me’ complex. in some cases, the abuse come from the fairer sex by way of just verbally maligning a particular person because she didn’t like the way her colleague stare at her etc. you know what? just as women are the greatest enemy of a woman, as the saying goes. men also ostracise the man deemed ‘pervert’ by a women.
    Every coin has got two sides. only that what you see and what you are shown matters, rest doesn’t exist … good luck.

    • @ghetu… thanks for taking time to read and always appreciate your blunt comments.

      *ghetu, seriously doubt if we have kids (5 and above) who do not (or at least) have a certain inkling of sex and porn, especially in urban society. scoff if you must, but parents i know have vouched for this fact. yea, i remember those times and LOL it still happens but now the reasoning for chiding a child who roams around naked is wrong.
      *One of the first posts I wrote was on Reality TV involving kids and how parents need to be thrashed+rebuked for making their kids to dance to item numbers or raunchy songs. Rocksta was quick to point out that our age-old culture (read the Temple carvings & Bharatnatyam to name a few) has these sort of movements. Times are a changing folks and with it the mindset. When one can prevent and pre-empt why risk your child’s innocence, is all I ask?!
      *The other side of the coin certainly exists, I have been victim to that. Aggressive feminism, when a guy offering a helping hand is taken otherwise. As we grow older we realise it takes all kinds to make the world and yes, there are shades of grey in between the black and the white. Some of my best friends are guys and I do not shy away from asking them help or appreciate the fact that they see something good in me. Only what you see is what matters in the end.. 🙂

  4. Wonderful article. Even boys face similar problem, but boys been boys, they punch the hell out of such guys. I faced a similar incident when i was in the 10th STD from a neighborly uncle, who turned out to be gay (which was unheard of during the late 80s, me and my friends use to call him chakka and made his life hell until he left our neighborhood.

    • @jose..thanks for reading my blog Jose, and sharing your perceptions. Muchly muchly appreciated 😀
      yup, all of us at one point or the other have had uncles, and yes aunties (not to mention grandpaz too) try to molest us and violate our childhood. Knowledge is Empowerment.

  5. It is a very sad and threatening issue. we realize the ‘deadly’ nature of the abuse only when we have to protect our ‘own’ kid from these perverts.

    I am wondering how we can protect the kids from social networking sites and popular cinema. A friend of mine was mentioning how she restricted internet access at home, resulting in the kid going to cyber cafe. The mother decided to restore the internet access as it was safer at home where she can keep an eye from a distance :((

    • @archana.. wish i had an answer to that, and also one of the reasons why I wrote that post. Even if you can restrict their Internet access you cannot stop them from watching TV or movies, that would be jurassic and highly impossible.
      Latest statistics puts active Internet users at 52 mln users but penetration is a dismal 14.6 million users so it is obviously the Internet that is not worrying as TV and movies. Especially, TV, which not only has all this late night soft-porn shows but has Hindi/Telegu/Tamil/Kannada/fill up language depending on what you watch that is progagating regressive values… Eg: Girl child does not have right to Education, Girls should be married as soon as they reach puberty or turn 20, Girls are not equipped to take care of themselves, Girls should not be vocal, and so on and on..What do we do?????

  6. I think the best way to prevent children from getting into bad things or watching prono sites is to become really frank with them. Parent should try to be their best friends, so that the child will come to them whenever they have a problem and not run to their peers, who like them are ill informed and immature to handle situations

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