April 23, 2009

Urging mental health professionals to understand the subtler nuances of child sexual abuse cases….

When I say victims, I mean all players in the case related to the victim also. The parent, the family, in cases of incest- the non offending parent and their psyche all deserve equal mention and emphasis to be tackled in a therapy setting.

They need and deserve to gather their wits around them and reconstruct their violated boundaries, gather confidence and their self sense of self worth before tackling the reins of normal life. The family and caretakers require equal help on how to talk and behave with the survivors so that there is every chance he/she gets a chance to thrive and get on with their lives. Or else the gains of a therapy session are lost once the child is home.

While child sexual abuse is a definite scourge of human race, and it is ARPAN dream to make the world a safe place from sexual abuse for children, the alarming rate of reporting in the media today talks of a diametrically opposite reality that is staring at us in the face.
Like creepy nightmares you shudder when you read everyday of “yet another case of incest…” in our “culturally rich and diverse” INDIA….
But ask therapists who have worked in closed clinics how many cases come to them and always have since years ago where adult survivors talk of violated childhoods.

This is not new and happened even in the old joint family setups where more efforts were made at hushing up the matter rather than dealing with it; and helping to reassure that child that it was not his/her fault but the fault of the adult. And then the child who still has to get on with life and while s/he limps back to normalcy with a scar on their soul because they think they have done something wrong!! A paradox where the victim gets re victimised!

The intervention from an understanding professional would take the child victim far and help them thrive instead of living their life in the shadows for no fault of theirs. The intervention needs to be clear yet subtle in a climate of understanding and empathy for the child where efforts are made to win the trust of the child and build a firm rapport so the child feels safe. This can happen only when the intervention is consistent and supportive. When adults who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse are in psychotherapy, they realize the quality of life they have compromised on for no fault of their own. There is rage then and appropriate anger which is dealt with, through specific techniques. The therapeutic environment needs to become a firm ground which the child/adult can rely upon to help them elevate to a state where they can thrive and reclaim their selves..

Vision vs reality: Having said all this, the stark reality also is to keep up with this long procedure against the odds of time. There are enough issues that need mental health intervention in today’s life and this causes a dearth of professionals who feel capable to deal with such cases which needs huge chunks of time especially when there are investigative procedures to deal with, if it is under litigation.

Arpan is an Ngo which works on the issue of child sexual abuse by spreading awareness through programs for stakeholders in a child’s life and healing services too. A pioneer effort has been made to develop training sessions for social workers and counselors to understand the theory of trauma and get equipped to deal with cases when they arise.

Treating offenders, if they are open and receptive to getting counseling is another aspect of prevention of sexual abuse. To acknowledge that the offender also needs counseling help besides punitive procedures is still a novel concept and takes courage and thorough knowledge of its nuances to accept it, but we at ARPAN, believe it is an important step that holds the key to checking many cases of abuse although admittedly it is a monumental task and re offending is not ruled out. However attempts have to be made to understand their psyche better which ARPAN aims to do as another key area of work.

Understanding it in totality with all its nuances and working at it, is an uphill task a small handful of us are still valiantly trying against many odds to make the world a safer place for children….. we know we will make a dent, albeit through small steps.

Pushpa Venkatraman

April 1, 2009

2nd March 2009

Hindustan Times
Will kids in the state ever get sex ed?
March 2007 - State government bans sex education
Arpil 2008 – Education minister at that time, Vasant Purke, does an about turn, announces compulsory sex education in Class 9 and Class 11. Next day there is a furore in the assembly and it is decided to set up a committee to look into the matter
November 17, 2008 - Government resolution names 21 Vidhan Sabha and Vidhan Parishad members, including Purke and assembly opposition leader Ramdas Kadam as members of the committee. It also names 15 ‘experts’ which includes educationists and social workers from across the state.
Feb 10, 2009 – The only meeting so far of the committee is held in Pune, of the ‘experts’ group. Only 8 members turn up. The committee has sexologist, Dr Vithal Prabhu, paediatrician Dr.Sandhya Khadse, Professor Chhaya Bakare of Ruia College and several ‘sex educators’ attached to NGOs in Kolhpaur, Vardha, Latur and other places.

6th March, 2009

Hindustan Times
Crime against women on the rise in the city
The year that started with the molestation of two NRI women outside a five-star hotel in Juhu went on to witness a steep rise in crime against women. Annual crime statistics of the Mumbai police, obtained by HT, shows that more incidents of rape, especially involving minors, and molestation were registered in the city in 2008 as compared to previous years.

Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor, however, said that the rise in figures has more to do with women reporting crimes rather than a rise in crime rate.
CRIME 2007 2008
Rape (minors) 124 147
Rape (adults) 48 69
Molestation 356 427
Raids on brothels 134 158
Girls rescued 293 295


Hindustan Times
Sex sells at India’s popular pilgrim sites
India’s popular pilgrimage sites like Puri in Orissa and Tirupati in AP are major attractions for sex tourism, especially involving young boys A year long study conducted in three major pilgrim sites – Puri, Tirupati and Guruvayoor in Kerala has found that young boys from poor families are being trafficked to these religious places for sexual gratification of visitors. Lured by money, victims find it difficult to leave the profession. 13 boys in Puri revealed that they preferred foreigners to domestic ones, since they got chocolate, toys, good clothes, besides being paid from Rs.50 – Rs.200 per day.

20th March, 2009

Times of India
Rural Thane sees rise in incest cases
Mumbai: Cases of incest have been increasingly reported from rural Thane over the past few years. Officials attribute this to more women coming out to lodge complaints against family members.

In August 2006, the Nala Sopara police arrested Satish Chaurasia (35) for sexually abusing his daughter and subsequently getting her pregnant.
The same year, the Tarapur police arrested Nitin Raul (46) for raping his foster daughter. The 13-yearold victim became pregnant but the abuse continued.
“Incest exists even among educated and well-to-do families. Alcoholism and borderline personality disorder can lead to incest,’’ said psychiatrist Harish Shetty. “There are instances where women do not support their daughters (victims) and stand by their husbands (accused) instead. A rise in such offences is caused by alienation and loneliness.’’
In August 2008, the Virar police arrested Rajendra Yadav (29) for molesting his 12-year-old niece during a game of “hideand-seek”. The girl had been living with Yadav after her father died in the 7/11 blasts.

29th March, 2009
Times of India
Rural sisterhood forms rings of steel for victims of rape
No institution assures them justice, no organization fights for their rights and no counsellor helps them pick up the pieces of their lives. But the initial findings of a nationwide study reveal that rural victims of sexual abuse are beginning to fight back in their own way. Call it the sisterhood of India Invisible. Mobilizing village communities, picketing police stations and ridiculing attackers are some of the ways rural women are using to take on their assailants, says an 11-state study conducted from October 2007 to December 2008 by a Delhi-based NGO Swanchetan. It used data collected by state police forces and NGOs working with rural victims of sexual violence.
Some say the change is a reflection of the growing awareness of rural women, especially Dalits. “In Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharshtra, women say that they will not tolerate (injustice). They have their constitutional rights and will protest,” says Ruth Manorama, who campaigns for Dalit women in Bangalore.
Mitra says that women are empowered when they form a collective.