Sunday, February 21, 2010

Are children safe ?

I read this article yesterday and while I am happy about the elderly being treated well in India, well for the most part, I am shocked by the child abuse statistics (not just sexual abuse). When I saw the movie ''Achamundu Achamundu'', I was equally appalled by the statistics shown at the end of the movie stressing the point that most children are abused by near and dear ones.

I used to believe that the culture and way of life in India where families and relationships take priority over everything else will be impermeable to issues like child abuse and those that we hear of in the news are the few exceptional cases....well, like I said, I used to.....I seem to hardly see a day's news without some child abuse case taking the forefront and it scares me, positively scares me !

Besides the sexual abuse, children are thrashed and punished in the name of discipline. It is true that using brute force or other forms of punishment to induce discipline is more or less accepted in India but clearly there is a line between this and insanity, right ? I have heard of desi parents having a hard time abroad since a simple phone call from the child can invoke the long arm of the law and result in embarrassing or difficult circumstances and I have also seen helpless parents here trying their best to reason with children with unbelievably unruly behavior. It all boils down to the parents doing what they think is best for their children.

Let me explain this right - I am not against occasionally giving a spoilt child a spanking when its impossible to reason with him/her to make him/her do the right thing. My chinna thatha* used to pinch me when I refused to do my maths homework at an age when he couldn't make me understand that studying basic arithmetic was going to help me in the long run. But when I read of stories where children are made to kneel down in the hot sun for a whole day that they faint purely out of exhaustion or a 12 year old girl being made to stand naked in the school, I think the people behind this should be properly questioned because I wouldn't be surprised if they had bodies buried in their gardens; this kind of sheer sadism cannot definitely be a one time thing !!

If we look at this issue objectively, it is surprising and confusing at the same time because the reasons do not actually point to poverty, child labour, lack of education etc. (these of course affect the lives of children but in a very different way). I am not a psychiatrist but to me it seems like in 8 cases out of 10, the reason simply points to depravity in one way or another.

And what is more worrying is the increase in nuclear families in India with no grand parents to watch over the little ones especially with both parents having challenging jobs.

And what is even more worrying is how sex and violence are becoming a part of one's life through media, magazines and technology (there are computer games where you get points for killing !)....Everyone was in praise of the movie ''Kaminey''...oh..well, to me it was nothing but shooting, chasing, killing and blood and yes, I appreciate the screenplay but I am also appalled at the violence considering the average age of the audience in India.

India is evolving...on the one side are the people who are trying to stick to the tradition and culture that they believe defines them and on the other side are the people who think they are enabling India catch up with the western civilization and everyone is confused ! While the former works on opposing inter-caste marriages, disco clubs, girls jogging in shorts, without in the least worrying about diet, health, exercise and tolerance, the latter is interested in dating, having October fests in India, Salsa classes, Mercedes without in the least thinking about how they are imbibing none of the right qualities from the western world (no, there is nothing wrong with salsa or Mercedes, but you get what I mean, right ?)....and the evolution should result in the survival of the fittest, only I have no idea what/who that is going to be !

But here is something I do know and can do - help campaigns that create awareness about issues related to Child Abuse. A fellow blogger, SK, pointed me to Dr.Shalini who is actively involved in such campaigns and she would really appreciate any help one can offer; be it technical assistance in conducting such seminars or providing contacts for organising them. Right now, the plan is to start with school teachers since they are the ones who keep in regular touch with the kids and are also open minded to issues like these when compared to parents. People, any suggestions you have or help you can offer, in this regard, would be appreciated. Just leave a comment if you know of a group of people who would be interested in attending one such seminar and would be willing to spread the word further.

*Gold fish translator (Doesn't goldfish sound a lot better than youknowwhat ? :D):
Chinna thatha - Grandfather's younger brother
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