CSA (Child Sex Abuse) has been a sensitive topic since a long time. Albeit, i have been an active supporter of the CSA Awareness program that has been running for a while. In our society where its taboo to talk about sex in front of our children, educating them about CSA is next to impossible given the state of our cultural upbringing. Times are changing. So when i received an opportunity to attend a blogger meet organised by Indiblogger centered on this topic, i was more than ready to go. The event was the launch of a new book on the subject, “The Bad Touch” by Payal Shah Karwa. Payal has compiled a set of true stories about individuals who underwent the abuse and emerged as survivors in the true sense of the word.
Quite a few guests were present for this event along with Payal. We had Kiral Manral who is a part of the CSAawareness team that runs the #CSAAM initiative. I had participated in their twitter chat last year where the famous director Onir also responded to some of my tweets amongst others. If you want to know more of the great work they’re doing, you can check it out here: http://csaawarenessmonth.com . Harish Iyer, the LGBT rights activist who himself suffered CSA when he was young was there to shed more light on the issue. Pooja Taparia, founder of Arpan that’s fighting for freedom from CSA also patiently clarified and explained the brilliant work she has been doing at schools to create awareness about the evil that is crippling several children.
The event started by rolling out chits which had certain words written on them. Each blogger had to stand up introduce themselves and read the word aloud. The words were such that nearly everyone had a reaction to what they had picked. My word was ‘Penis’ adn i must admit, i did feel uncomfortable saying it aloud. Later Payal, Harish and Kiran took turns in reading certain parts of the book and sensitized us to what the victims go through. This was followed by a discussion where a lot of us asked several questions on the topic. Questions ranged from legal actions being taken to parents being perpetrators to people relaying experiences where they saw abuse happening but were too afraid to interfere. Some observations stood out clearly. The children who have absolutely no understanding / awareness of CSA become easy targets. Many a time, the child maybe trying to talk about the abuse to a parent & this calls for additional attention from the parent. When you see abuse happening, stop and make an effort to rescue the child rather than walking away. There is a fine line between abuse and exploration. Make sure your adolescent children understand the difference. Guilt is a common feeling that several victims carry. If you know a victim then help them understand it wasn’t their fault. I bought a copy of the book which Payal signed with a nice note. It felt good to talk to her after the show and kudos to the effort she has put in writing about such a difficult topic.
This definitely was one of the most intense sessions i’ve attended. I felt that as custodians of the future we have so many more responsibilities than what we assume to have. Creating awareness about CSA and ensuring that our children are protected is definitely on the top of my list. I #pledgetoprotect !