March 28, 2012



Bloggers to lay bare sex abuse stories

Maya Singh suffered in silence for years before she picked up the courage to tell her mother that an older cousin had been touching her inappropriately. “She reacted in exactly the way I had feared she would. At first, she was shocked, then she went into denial, and when I persisted, she simply asked me to keep out of his way and not say a word to anyone,” recalls Singh, who finally confronted her abuser. “He backed off only when I threatened to tell his wife. I was bluffing, but it worked,” says the now 42-year-old school teacher.

Several such stories will soon be shared on an online forum that will have more than 70 bloggers from across the country addressing the issue of child sexual abuse. The participants will include anonymous survivors of child abuse, activists and concerned parents. The group is observing April as child sexual abuse awareness (CSAA) month in cyber space in the hope that more and more people will be vigilant and will keep their children safe.

In a country where more than half the children, irrespective of gender, face sexual abuse in some form or the other, perpetrators get away with it more often than notonly because most parents refuse to take action. “There is a crying need to address the issue, create awareness and positive action, and at the same time, give survivors a platform to share their stories,” says equal rights activist Harish Iyer, who is a child sexual abuse survivor himself.

April was designated as CSAA month in cyber space last year after Mumbai-based author and social activist Kiran Manral got into a discussion with fellow blogger and Bangalore resident Monika Manchanda. The duo realised that though a common problem in Indian homes, stories of child sexual abuse are taboo and are never shared.

After they started talking to friends and other bloggers, a lot of people started opening up their hearts and were willing to participate in spreading the message.
The initiative generated enough attention in the virtual world last year to encourage the organisers to make a comeback in 2012.

“Through this concerted effort, we hope to bring child sexual abuse out of the closet and teach parents how to educate their children about predators, prevent their kids from being abused and know how to deal with such a situation should it occur,” says Manral.