Those classroom walls that have heard the screams & wails of the child as she begged her tormentors to stop. Will they ever speak up? Those bedroom walls that saw a child’s innocence being stripped, her body being groped & greedily felt & pounced upon like hyenas preying on flesh. Will they ever speak up? Those bathroom walls that witnessed the child washing herself over & over again – to cleanse, to erase, to burn the memories of that touch that defiled her. Will those walls ever speak up? The child pleading with man after man to, not touch her, not sully her. Will those tender, pleading hands ever be free? The walls have been stained by the tears of blood the child has shed. The pillows drenched as these little ones cried themselves to sleep, night after night. I am in actual physical pain as I write this. I shudder to think of the horrors that the four walls, of some of our homes & schools, have seen.
Various reports on child sexual abuse (CSA) have this to say about this menace. 3 out of 4 adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well. 1 in 5 girls & 1 in 20 boys is a victim of CSA. A child who is the victim of prolonged abuse develops a feeling of worthlessness, may become withdrawn & mistrustful of adults, & can become suicidal.
Why is a child dishonored thus? And as statistics confirm, most often by someone the child knows, someone she trusts or someone her parents & family members know & trust. I remember once, when Tanvi who was around 6 years old at the time, came running home & said “That uncle touched me here” & pointed to her chest. I was aghast. It was a neighbor, an old married man with an adult son. The wife was there when he “playfully” touched my daughter. When we confronted him, the man denied it & fell silent. It was the wife who vehemently defended her husband.
Many kids are not expressive enough or fearless enough or confident enough like my child to run up to her parents & say it exactly like it happened. I can’t begin to imagine the plight of children, both boys & girls, who suffer silently. They either have no parents or guardians to go to & confess what happened. Or ,they cannot go to them out of fear. Or because they feel they would be not trusted by their family & instead may themselves be blamed for what happened. Or simply because the family fears accusing the abuser as he is a family friend, a respectable figure in society.
I remember the scene in the movie “Highway” where Alia talks about her abuse by her uncle in the bathroom every time he visited their home, bribing her with chocolates & whispering “Don't worry, it will be over soon.” I remember my eyes welled up, throat choked & I sat there immobilized. I knew this was happening in many households across the country & the world, even as we sat there, watching the movie. I felt so powerless, completely helpless.
I am not interested in the statistics or what research tells us about the effects of CSA. I am concerned about the psyche that makes you want to dishonor a child, that turns you into a monster. What are you thinking? That you can escape without anyone knowing? That you can continue to hold onto your good & respectable persona, your carefully built social image while the child dies a slow death each day of his life? What makes you want to see & touch the children of God with lust in your eyes? What makes you think it is ok? What makes you fearless enough to carry on doing it? Have you no conscience? Some of you have children of your own. How could you not see the tears streaming down the cheeks of another innocent child? What has turned your heart cold? I I know you don’t regret it. I know you feel no remorse.
And that, THAT pricks my heart, makes it bawl in pain; a knife twisting & turning the flesh till it is red & swollen, churning the stomach into a thousand painful knots. Oh God, when did we turn into animals? When did our souls decay? When did we start hunting our own little ones? And why? Why?
Sorry dear angels, we have failed you.