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Let’s Talk About Child Abuse | Art plays an instrumental role in healing

Art plays an instrumental part in healing, gives a voice to what is otherwise painful to express in cases of child sexual abuse.

india Updated: Oct 01, 2017 14:17 IST
(Illustration: Rahul Krishnan)

A decade ago, the women and child development ministry conducted a study to better understand the problem of child sexual abuse in India and found that nearly 70% of children had suffered physical abuse and nearly 50% had suffered sexual abuse in some form.

Read Part 1 | ‘I was raped at 7, torture continued for 11 years’: A child abuse survivor’s account

Things have not changed much since then. In a recent survey, it was found that one in every two children in India faces sexual abuse before turning 18. More than 45,000 children in the age group of 12-18 participated in this survey conducted by World Vision India. The findings presented in the report were very disturbing – they revealed that one in every five children reported feeling unsafe due to the fear of being sexual abused.

Read Part 2 | Bullying is the first sign of abuse, says school principal

It was found that there was a huge silence surrounding the issue, with one in four families not coming forward to report an abuse. According to a 2015 report by the non-profit organisation ‘Save the Children’, what makes reporting difficult for victims and their families is that in 94.8% of the cases, the perpetrator is a known face. This makes it extremely difficult for victims to come out and tell what took place because they fear no one would believe them and because of the stigma associated with child sexual abuse.

Read Part 3 | Justice can no longer exist as a theoretical ideal, writes a lawyer

As a result, they often suffer in silence for years. But art plays an instrumental part in healing, gives a voice to what is otherwise painful to express and reminds us that the shame is not ours. The two poems written below reflect on this. They are written by Prerna Bakshi -- the author of ‘Burnt Rotis, With Love’.

Author Prerna Bakshi

Childhood games

I used to like playing games

with little toy guns until

one day, while the elders talked

downstairs, he snuck me into

his room…

My interest in toys ended

that day and with it ended

my childhood, though not

my interest in guns. That grew.

Read Part 4| First-person account: Kashmir peer has traumatised a generation of children

Coming Out

12 years old.

Come here, he said. Look what I’ve got for you, he said. I wanted it to be a surprise, he said. I’ve been planning to show you for days, he said. I’ve made sure it pops out as soon as you unwrap it, he said. I bet you’ll open your mouth as soon as you see it, he said. You might scream, he said. You might cry, he said. You might say I shouldn’t have, he said. But I know you wanted it, he said. So don’t be shy, he said. Come here, he said. Come and lie down with me, he said. It’s under these sheets, he said. Get your head under there, he said. Start looking, he said. Don’t come out until you find it, he said.

I hadn’t come out

until now.

The author and tweets at @bprerna

This is the fifth part of the HT series Let’ s Talk About Child Abuse. Join the conversation on @htTweets and send us your ideas and suggestions at writetous@hindustantimes.com