Statutory warning: What lies ahead is unpleasant. Perhaps. It could also be familiar. And that's my contribution today. Yours?
It’s a common sight to find a traffic jam on a fly-over in Delhi. Most jams here are usually due to a single moron. These are people who – in the middle of after-work traffic – decide to turn their vehicle in the opposite direction to common sense. It was nearing twilight and I was sitting in the autorickshaw, stuck in one such jam. You could see the slums below, not too many, just an odd cluster, sporadically strewn around, with little chulhas – two bricks surround by three A-4 size, tin sheets to keep the wind out -- beginning to smoke. There was this man and kid, maybe 6, maybe 10, standing at a distance from one of the hovel clusters.
From the top, I could see his back and that he was somewhat aged and was wearing a lungi. The traffic had begun moving again. Both him and the child were staring into the beyond, with the old man’s hands on the kid’s shoulder. The auto had moved and with another turn I would lose sight of the pair. And then the old man had looked around furtively and lifted his lungi and guided the kid’s hand and we turned. Twilight tricks? I was wearing specs.
Third year of college, to and fro was usually on Delhi Transport Corporation buses. Now general rule in Delhi buses is to head straight for the ‘only for ladies’ seats. Often, there are men sitting on these seats and of course they don’t get up. They resolutely look outside or anywhere but at the women standing around them. Women often have verbal skirmishes with such men. The others usually watch. So this woman gets on with two children – tot in arms and little girl, 4-ish, by side – and an old man, surprisingly, offers his seat. She declines and insists he keep sitting. He does and then kindly, makes the little girl perch on his lap. It was all very symbiotic.
To prevent the child falling off, Old Man kept his hands on the child’s knees, she wore a dark blue frock. A little later, I thought that his hand was a little higher on the child’s thighs. Yet no one else looked bothered, so I continued looking outside as well. Some more time later, the man’s fingers were under the frock’s hem. “Janaab, aap kya kar rahein?” had escaped my mouth before I could… I don’t know what. (What are you doing mister?)
At that moment, the bus stopped to let some more people in. And something weird happened. The old man started opening and closing his mouth like a gold fish; but the mother… She clutched the tot even tighter to her bosom, snatched the little girl off the old man’s lap and stalked off the bus; shoving me hard in the process. Before she alit, she turned and gave me one of the most hateful looks I have ever received in my life. I don’t want to think about what that look meant. Did she hate me for stopping it? Or because she knew and yet hadn’t opened her mouth? Everyone else kept on looking outside.
Happened to discuss the above episodes with someone. The response? “These lower class people; they can do anything.”
End of part one
So the Indian youth are apparently losing their virginity at the ripe age of 19. ‘Generation X, Y, Z values virginity over pre-marital sex’ read the jubilant headlines. What rot. But then, they mean ‘technical’ virginity. Like pop the cherry. But what about fringe benefits? Or pre-loaders?
Like He lost his ‘virginity’ at age four. Daily, when his ayah/maid gave him a bath. It was an exercise in mutual fondling. “I didn’t mind it, thought I knew it was wrong,” he said. “For a long time I had wondered if I would go to hell for liking it, I was afraid I was dying, each time I… till I was 13,” he says. He is a man of words, when he talks, he pours. Or Her, feeling guilty about asking him, “Dad, why did you feel my breasts all those years back?” She is not guilty for him, but, “Mom didn’t know. Shit. She had tears in her eyes. Maybe I should have kept quiet?” But she is sane, she turned out just fine.
Or Him narrating how he looked much older than anyone else since he was, well, hirsute. He also has a very nice voice, but a baritone at 14 isn’t always a good thing. It was his Math tuition teacher, she was 26. “I just closed my eyes and couldn’t…no control, so I came early…” he hesitated, trying to make it sound cute while he has ever since been mortified. Scared of women, why, who would have thought that? It is a scary thought. Because when people get scared of each other, they do mean, underhanded things to balance the status quo.
Or take her, another Daddy’s personal pleasure possum. Now in families where Fathers drink – or there is alcoholism – there is always this pervasive sense of fear. Of not doing a thing out of place that could lead to an argument. You don't do anything that could catch anyone's eye. Drunks always yell. Whether men or women. And look ugly too. So in drunk-at-home families, there is always The Hour, when the first drink begins, after which you pretty much pray you are not The Chosen One. Some drunk parents beat kids, others emotionally destroy kids, still others forget that the child is not just flesh and blood, but His/Her flesh and blood. Another almost-case where a 15-year-old brain told her to keep her legs tightly clenched while Daddy drunk, groped for the drawstrings. The alcohol made him sleepy and he left without much trying. “I still don’t know if I should be grateful that he drank so much that night…” is all she says, sipping her whiskey. (And oh, when you are drinking at 25 or 32, you will become a drunk parent for sure.)
And him, Senor Don Juan Desi: If it moves, will do. When it comes to sexually respecting women, he thinks the lowest of them and serially cheats on the women he says he loves. He wouldn’t agree to it though. The reason? Older women; he was always a rather good-looking boy. He was mostly let down by mother figures. The first was his best friend’s mother. Apparently, his own mother knew about it.
How many other mothers keep quiet? Do the parents really not know… or they don’t have the balls to accept it and speak up? Which part is tougher: Taking on the Predator or explaining it to the child? We have 53.22 per cent children ABUSED. Crudely, that’s half the kids you see playing every evening in any given park. (and that’s from the surveyed sample, we are a huge nation) If it’s 53 % kids abused; those kids grow up to be adults. So a nation of abused adults. Which way do they swing? Victims or predators?
Perhaps let's say it is rampant the world over. But does everyone stay as hush about it as we do? Given the long time Indian families stay together – be it joint family or meeting relatives frequently for festivals and weddings – our abuse cases are mostly close family. Fifty per cent are close relatives or known people, says report released by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Or perhaps that’s the nature of child abuse: We sire to devour. And it’s not low-class, high-class. When it comes to children, everyone likes a bite. So now I don’t bother asking, “What was your first time like?” Most of us are lying.
PS: I will not be a mute spectator. I will try and have balls.
The Report Says on Sexual Abuse
1. 53.22% children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse.
2. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest percentage of sexual abuse among both boys and girls.
3. 21.90% child respondents reported facing severe forms of sexual abuse and 50.76% other forms of sexual abuse.
4. Out of the child respondents, 5.69% reported being sexually assaulted.
5. Children in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest incidence of sexual assault.
6. Children on street, children at work and children in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault.
7. 50% abuses are persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility.
8. Most children did not report the matter to anyone.