A mother’s take: ‘Even women don’t react to a bad touch, how can a 10-year-old?’
Cops asked mother of Karnal girl, who delivered a child at 12 years, how did she not get to know about the pregnancy and rape. Same questions come to mind in case of 10-year-old Chandigarh girl. Can a mother be blamed?Updated: Aug 01, 2017, 10:42 IST
These are not just stories of two mothers and their daughters. It is about every mother and her daughter. When a petite 14-year-old sat before me in a cramped neighbourhood of Haryana’s Karnal on Saturday, her mother warned me not to speak about her past. Raped at the age of 11 by her father’s relative, she had delivered a boy in April 2015, after the Punjab and Haryana high court, citing the 20-week rule, refused to allow abortion.
At a loss for words, all I could ask her was what do you want to become after you grow up. “An IAS officer,” pat came the reply. And what do you like to do the most now? “Drawing.” As a mother of a 11-year-old daughter myself, I could not ask more.
The first thing the cops had asked the mother when she went to report the rape was how she did not get to know that her daughter was being sexually abused at home and was 21 weeks pregnant. The same question is being raised in case of the 10-year-old Chandigarh girl -- also raped by a relative -- whose plea for termination of her 32-week pregnancy has been rejected by the Supreme Court.
Can a mother be blamed? They can be, if they chose to keep quiet and allowed the abuse to go on till the pregnancy. But what if seduced or threatened by the accused, a child facing sexual abuse does not report it to her mother? What if the child shows no signs of trauma, neither becomes a recluse or withdrawn or aggressive?
No place is safe enough
Do educated and affluent families report child sex abuse? Unlike these two cases from low-income families, they can afford to leave their children in the care of extended family or nannies. But children are abused even in the safest of homes, in the most prestigious of schools and even in neighbourhood playgrounds.
I saw a 4-year-old girl in a kindergarten being lifted inappropriately into the school bus by a helper. Could she know it was a bad touch? Would her mother have known as she waited for her to return back home? Should we start educating even four-year-olds on a good and a bad touch?
Shocking as it is, even mothers, including me, at times have not reacted or reacted late to a bad touch. The first reaction is always disbelief and shock. By the time I have wanted to shout at the man, he had gotten away... in university buses of Delhi, in queues of cinema halls, in political rallies!
What do I tell my daughter? That an unknown hand is always lurking dangerously behind? That she is safe neither with her uncles nor teachers? That finally, it is the woman not the man who carries the burden of the womb? What about educating our sons on a good and a bad touch? I have a son too.
And I have.