The first lesson
I am still trying to come to terms with the horrific rape of the six month old baby in Gujarat, if come to terms you can. Quite frankly only a very sick society can come to terms with sic horror. I had expressed my immediate reaction in a short blog yesterday while I was still under shock and seething in anger. Some friends reacted to the post asking, quite rightly, what could be done as I had urged all of us to become her voice. One friend suggested a petition. Great idea but we soon realised that it was easier said than done. Who do we petition and what do we ask for. Perhaps one needs to try and decipher, if one can, the whole situation.
My friend wrote in answer to my comment asking the deafening why: many reasons…women and children and second rate citizens, perps go scott free and even brag. There is no fear in the minds and hearts of the monsters. Everything she says is right. But there is more. If such incidents were isolated one would qualify the perpetrator as ‘monsters’; but rapes of toddlers in safe places like schools happens with sickening regularity. And in spite of the outrage, the anger, the lip service promises, nothing changes. So have we become a land of monsters and beasts. The statistics of child sexual abuse seems to point in that direction. Or are we a land of cowards who are able to hurt children because they know that their own kith and kin will protect them in the name of a misplaced code of honour. It is revolting to see how in a patriarchal society like ours, it is the women who shield their menfolk even if it means goings against their daughter! What better champion than your very own wife or mother. Maybe that is where the seed of the habitual ‘ it is her fault‘ is planted and add hubris to it and you get the aberrations of your moral brigade and the cause of rape being what we wear, where we go etc. Worth a thought.
But let us get back to the little baby. I was appalled to see that she is no more news. I wanted to know whether she was still alive and listened to all news bulletins and googled like mad but there was no update. The life of a six month old mutilated baby does not make good copy and is not a vote bank either. Whether she lives or dies makes no ripple in our society.
But let us get back to the petition and define the what and who. Every minute lost is the risk of one child too many getting abused. The first thing that comes to mind is how we can protect potential victims. Sadly not much can be done for a six month old but something can be done for 3 years old and those older.
You may wonder why I have put this apparently plain drawing of a pair of scissors. This is what a 3 year old drew after she was raped and being interrogated by a psychologist. I do not think I need to say more. I just wonder whether our little baby would have drawn the same picture had she been older. After seeing this drawing I could not sleep. It is imperative children are taught to protect themselves and the first lesson is ‘good touch, bad touch’. The next one is to scream NO. This is what an age appropriate sex education teaches to young children and we have to do it urgently. Every nursery school, every primary school has to teach this. But there is a huge problem. In India sex education is taboo. Even our last health minister feels it should be banned! Many across the board feel the same way, be they parents, teachers or policy makers.
So why not petition our Prime Minister, as the baby is from his state, to include age appropriate sex education in all schools!