The mood around me has been generally sombre this past week. It was a dampening ill health situation at home with the baby and on the national map, the Asifa case has left everyone shocked. I’m not getting into the details of the gory incident. Graphic images and minute details of the whole episode have been shared endlessly over all social media platforms. But to what end?
Or that moment in history that will change the course of life as we know it?
Definitely, it’s not the latter. These periods of momentary outrage are not what bug me. In this time and age where faceless trolls thrive on the internet, outrage over issues like Kathua and Unnao are not unheard of. What is most common in these situations are that there is no end in sight when it comes to rape.
Being the mother of a daughter, incidents like these shake me to the very core. More often than not, I’m left thinking if I’ll ever be able to make sure that she is protected. I cannot be breathing down her neck all her life and follow her everywhere if that’s what protecting her would mean.
I’m not here to provide a solution to a crime that is so deeply embedded in our social strata, it’s alarming. Abuse is not confined to the downtrodden or the middle class. It is prevalent in the upper echelons of the society as well. In most cases, when it’s abuse by someone who is a known person, the episode is let go and the case forgotten because ‘log kya kahenge‘ (what will the people say). I have known women, so many women, who were subjected to abuse as a child in the hands of a known relative or a family friend. At the time, it felt comfortable to them. And when they were old enough to understand what had happened, their confessions to their mothers were stifled by the family elders because ‘bahut puraani baat hain, bhool jao!‘ (‘It’s a matter of the past, forget it and move on)
It is poisonous. Nursing that feeling of being wronged and violated over the years. It is toxic. Not everyone can come out of it with conviction. They succumb to being abused. Mentally, physically and emotionally. It makes them endure toxic relationships in their life as if they are normal. And despite the fact that they know deep down that the relationship they are in is abusive and destructive in nature, they will live with it because they end up feeling that they deserve it. I’m not making this up as I go. I’ve seen this happen with dozens of abusive and imploding relationships around me. Not just spousal relationships, every other familial connection gets affected.
So how are we, as new parents, going to change anything?
By teaching our kids some simple things.
- Irrespective of whether you are the parent of a boy or a girl, teach them about consent.
- The power that they hold by teaching them to say NO when needed.
- Everything about the good touch and the bad touch.
- When you want to talk to your toddler mid-tantrum, get on your knees to look them in the eye and try and understand what’s pestering them. They will learn to communicate better with you and trust you more as they grow up.
- If you have older kids, do not shy away from conversations about sex education if your kid is inquisitive. There are books now that help break this down for your kids in the gentlest and smartest possible manner.
- Teach them that no matter what or how close they are to anyone, violation of personal space is never okay.
- Have open and comfortable discussions with your kids, especially when they are older.
- Reassure them constantly that you are always around if they want to talk.
We as parents have to constantly work towards finding the light amidst total darkness for our babies. We know the world out there is the worst but we have a life to nurture, let’s do that with all the positivity that we can find within ourselves. Let’s be the change, however miniscule it may be.
Disclaimer: When I talk about abuse and rape, I am not polarizing it as a crime that targets only women. I know men have been subject to abuse as well. My focus and concern however stems from the fact that I have a daughter and in light of recent events, I want to be make sure we are doing everything we can in raising her in a safe and solid environment.