Monday November 20, 2017

Exclusive- ‘End The Isolation’: A Campaign To Battle Sexual Male Child Abuse in India, Survivors Come Forward to Speak Their Heart Out

There are millions of men struggling to battle the harrowing childhood memories of their sexual damage only with silent cries

Child Sexual Abuse
End The Isolation campaign poster.

Aug 04, 2017:

Can Women Rape? No

Can Men be Raped? No

Can a boy be Sexually Harassed? No

Can a Wife be Raped by her Husband? No

We have been sternly living by the above-mentioned cliches all our lives so much that we fail to look at the other side of the coin. A criminal has no gender, no relation, and no age. The plight talked about here is ‘Male Child Sexual Abuse’. Not only is the problem gruesome to imbibe but also muted by the callous society. It sounds eerie to ears and the mere thought of it can make someone’s blood run cold.

Recently, a campaign called ‘End the Isolation’ was initiated at subjecting to male child sexual abuse in India, petitioning the government to order an in-depth study on the matter.

The campaign was started by Insia Dariwala who herself is a sexual abuse survivor. Insia was merely 10 years old when she encountered abuse. She writes, Men who I had dearly trusted had violated me. The violation became a part of my life. It continued”. As she grew up and found out what it was, Insia became wracked with guilt. The awareness caught the spirit in her rather than setting her free only to end up in isolation. As a writer, stories became her place of escape during this passage of time, which also allowed strangers to connect on a common ground.

Insia further writes, Over the years, I met many more survivors living a life of penance for a crime they had not committed. One of them was my husband“.

The grim realization sooner dawned upon Insia that not only women but men too are afflicted with sexual violations. 

There are millions of men struggling to battle the harrowing childhood memories of their past brimmed with sexual violation. Child sexual abuse is a grave problem with pressing life long outcomes. According to 2002 WHO report, the lowest rate observed for males may be imprecise to some extent because of under reporting.

The Indian scenario of Child Sexual Abuse is even worse- For every 155th minute a child, less than 16 years is raped, for every 13th-hour child under 10, and one in every 10 children sexually abused at any point of time. Studies propose that over 7,200 children, including infants, are raped every year. A study conducted in 2007 by Ministry of women and child development in India revealed that 53.2% of children say they have experienced one or more form of sexual abuse. Of this number, 52.9% are boys.

“End the isolation” campaign has gained more than 40,000 supporters till now. The petition urges the Women & Child development ministry to take the first step towards ending the sexual violence against children & women.

Reporter Naina Mishra of Newsgram got in touch with Insia Dariwala, a filmmaker, and pioneer of the campaign – “End the Isolation”, Ipsa James, the psychologist and Abbydhhay, a survivor of child sexual abuse (#MaleSurvivor) to get hold of the heinous crime.
 Insia Dariwala 

Child sexual abuse
End The Isolation campaign poster

Why is it hard for society to believe that men too can be raped?

“The deep seated patriarchal seed, watered by women over generations, is a very big reason, why men can only be seen in roles as protectors, never a victim.”

Society is in denial when it comes to rape on boys. If you look at the P.O.C.S.O laws, rape on boys is termed as sodomy/unnatural sex and comes under the purview of the Section 377 act. This itself shows our hesitancy in accepting rape on boys. What amazes me is there is data staring at us in the face, and yet the denial. Just a couple of days ago, two boys aged 10, 13 died, and the 13-year-old gave a statement of being raped by four men. Isn’t this enough reason to accept that boys too can get raped? Sadly, society has not provided a system where a boy is allowed to be vulnerable as a child. The deep seated patriarchal seed, watered by women over generations, is a very big reason, why men can only be seen in roles as protectors, never a victim. They can hurt, but never be hurt. It’s only 10 years ago that I actually started seeing a pattern of re-victimisation, which was happening in my life. This is often a common trait in survivors of sexual abuse. You tend to recreate the same exact scenarios, which gave you.

What propelled you to start the campaign and speak about open in public? 

“I think a very big reason for me to come out with my abuse was to tell myself and the world that it was never my fault.”

It’s only 10 years ago that I actually started seeing a pattern of re-victimisation, which was happening in my life. This is often a common trait in survivors of sexual abuse. You tend to recreate the same exact scenarios, which gave you pain because somewhere deep inside you don’t believe you deserve to be happy. There is a shame, and guilt attached to the abuse, which instead of passing onto the perpetrators, is passed on to you. I think a very big reason for me to come out with my abuse was to tell myself and the world that it was never my fault. My campaign ‘End The Isolation’ too is about encouraging survivors to step out of the misplaced guilt and shame.

There must be myriads of survivors who chose to remain silent on the sufferings. What message do you have for them?

“A girl’s sexual abuse is scorned, and looked at as a serious crime, most men are pressurized by society to pass off their sexual abuse as a rite of passage.”

Yes, of course, there are! My campaign is enough proof that in a nation where an 110 million boys have possibly undergone every kind of sexual abuse, only a fistful came forward to lend a face to their voice. It just goes to show, how much fear, shame, and guilt these boys/men are living in. And why just boys? Even girls for that matter, find it difficult to come out with their abuse. However, the difference here is while on one hand, a girl’s sexual abuse is scorned, and looked at as a serious crime, most men are pressurized by society to pass off their sexual abuse as a rite of passage.

Talking about the Campaign “End the Isolation”, what has been the response from the people? 

“For me ‘End the Isolation’ is not just a campaign. I want it to become a movement, and go beyond gender. We have started by highlighting Male sexual abuse, and we will take it forward by also bringing out women, and third gender survivors”

As a filmmaker, the Photo campaign launched by The Hands of Hope Foundation is just one of my many creative attempts to shed light on the issue of sexual abuse on children. I see a lot being done to highlight the problems of a girl child, and not many to protect boys. This is my way of creating the balance and providing a platform for male survivors to share their story with the world. I want people to know that boys are as vulnerable as girls. They need our support too. I have received lots of letters from other survivors thanking me for speaking up for men, wanting to contribute to the cause, and also open up to the world with their stories. I think that’s fabulous. I have stirred a hornet’s nest, and am now waiting for it to sting the government. It is high time we invest in preventive measures rather than just waiting for cures.

Breaking the silence with Abbydhhay Pathak 

Abbydhhay is a child sexual abuse survivor. In an open letter to support End the isolation campaign, he wrote:

“For years, shame, anxiety, insecurity, and guilt filled me. Trust didn’t come easy. But today I am not my scars. I am who I choose to become. I hold both strength and fear inside me and I see- saw between the two. However, I have learned that I am beautiful the way I am. I want to make a difference in the world. I can’t change what happened to me, but I can help educate others. I am Abhhydday-the strong one”

When I took the step of courage, I turned from a victim to a survivor. When I am breaking the silence, I am also breaking the fact that you are not wrong or dirty, said Abbhydhhay while speaking to Newsgram

Child sexual abuse
A survivor of sexual male child abuse. Photographer Deepti Asthana/ Courtesy The Hands of Hope Foundation

We all want to be heroes but it takes courage to become one. Silence is perpetrator’s best friend and to break the silence is to widen the gap between silence and the perpetrator. For 15 years, Abhyydhhay believed himself to be blameworthy of the pain inflicted upon him.

“I have been in a dark place and I know it is not the good place to be. There are children who are waiting for the conversation to happen. I want to tell them to have the courage to speak up, at the same time adults to open to open their ears and hear and society to open their eyes.”

Psychological View of Child Sexual Abuse

Child Sexual Abuse
A survivor of sexual male child abuse. Photographer Deepti Asthana/ Courtesy The Hands of Hope Foundation

Child Sexual Abuse has many forms. Ipsa told Newsgram that the mental status of a child post the abuse depends on the duration and the relationship they had with the abuser, which also determine the kind of psychological damage it would cause.
She explains, “Majorly there are two areas of functioning that get affected i.e. Emotional and cognitive functioning and this has been seen in the majority of the cases. The children tend to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Disassociative Identity Disorder, Eating Disorders, Depression, Anxiety, Amnesia, Poor Self Esteem, may start doing Non-Suicidal Self Injury, Somatization, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and may later go on to develop Borderline Personality Disorder as an adult. Some children may start to portray regressive behavior such as thumb sucking and bed wetting as well.”
 Ipsa further adds, “Many develop neurological deficits such as reduced corpus callosum area, reduced volume of the left hippocampus, reversed hemispheric asymmetry and greater left hemisphere coherence. Physical issues except such as injuries and infections have been observed as well.”
 It has been usually seen that children who are survivors of sexual abuse would distance themselves from their peers as a result of an imbalance in their emotional stability. According to Ispa, people who have gone through childhood sexual abuse tend to gel well with others who have experienced the same as it validates the experience one has which our society is unable to do so.
The survivors also face an adverse effect on the sexual relationship with their partners. Ipsa tells a majority of survivors to refrain from sex, find it uncomfortable to be touched in the private parts, experience increased confusion during sexual and emotional intimacy, feel distressed with sexual content or fantasies, may experience flashbacks, panic attacks or disassociation and face many more side effects during the sexual engagement.
Discussing the mental condition of Paedophile, she told Newsgram, “there is a usual myth that all child sexual abusers are Paedophiles, but in order to diagnose someone with such instincts, one must notice their primary fantasies about children and ensure that children do not fall prey to victimization.”
Historically, castration was used as a usual practice to deal with such people but nowadays therapies and medication usually work on helping the client refrain from such urges whilst they are given medication to reduce testosterone, cited Ipsa on dealing with Paedophile.
The issue of Child Sexual Abuse is still deemed as a taboo in India. In India, the majority of the people choose to remain closemouthed about this issue. This silence is due to the fear of indignity, denial from the community social stigma not being able to trust government bodies and the gap in communication between parents and children about this issue.
Every child deserves a childhood full of love, security, and blamelessness. Help the child near you to counter the fear of shame and disgrace. Let’s pledge to end the isolation of these survivors. Click here to sign the petition to show your support against child sexual abuse.
– reported by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94

NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

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Rape Survivors in India Still Face Humiliation with Two-Finger tests and Barriers to Justice says Human Rights Watch

Indian Rape survivors still face barriers in justice and humiliation with two-finger tests, reported the Human Rights Watch

Rape Survivors
Rape survivors face humiliation during investigation. Pixabay.

New Delhi, Nov 9: Five years after the Nirbhaya gang rape case in Delhi, rape survivors are still facing barriers to getting justice in India, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

Rape survivors in India face significant barriers to obtaining justice and critical support services despite legal and other reforms adopted since the December 16, 2012 gang rape-murder of a 19-year-old physiotherapy intern in the national capital, who came to be known as ‘Nirbhaya’, said the international human rights NGO in an 82-page report “Everyone Blames Me: Barriers to Justice and Support Services for Sexual Assault Survivors in India” released on Wednesday.

The report said women and girls who survived rape and other sexual violence often suffered humiliation at police stations and hospitals.

“Police are frequently unwilling to register complaints, victims and witnesses receive little protection, and medical professionals still compel degrading two finger tests. These obstacles to justice and dignity are compounded by inadequate healthcare, counselling, and legal support for victims during criminal trials of the accused,” an HRW statement said.

“Five years ago, Indians shocked by the brutality of the gang rape in Delhi, called for an end to the silence around sexual violence and demanded criminal justice reforms,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director of HRW.

“Today, there are stronger laws and policies, but much remains to be done to ensure that police, doctors, and courts treat survivors with dignity,” she said.

The HRW said it conducted field research and interviews in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan — selected because of their large number of reported rape cases — as well as Delhi and Mumbai.

The report details 21 cases — 10 cases involving girls under the age of 18.

Rape survivors
Rape survivors feel harassed at police stations and hospitals. Pixabay.

The findings are drawn from more than 65 interviews with victims, their family members, lawyers, human rights activists, doctors, forensic experts, and government and police officials, as well as research by Indian organisations.

“Under the Indian law, police officers who fail to register a complaint of sexual assault face up to two years in prison. However, Human Rights Watch found that police did not always file a First Information Report (FIR), the first step to initiating a police investigation, especially if the victim was from an economically or socially marginalised community.

“In several cases, the police resisted filing the FIR or pressured the victim’s family to ‘settle’ or ‘compromise’, particularly if the accused was from a powerful family or community,” the statement said.

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It said that lack of witness protection law in India makes rape survivors and witnesses vulnerable to pressure that undermines prosecutions.

The human rights body said that some defence lawyers and judges still use language in courtrooms that is “biased and derogatory” toward sexual assault survivors.

“The attempt at shaming the victim is still very much prevalent in the courts,” Rebecca Mammen John, a senior criminal lawyer in Delhi, was quoted in the statement. (IANS)

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‘Safe Childhood Safe India’ Rally to be Addressed by Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi

Around 53 per cent children in India face sexual abuse. In India, at least 10 children are sexually abused daily. Thus there is an urgent need to address the problem. This is what the Safe Childhood Safe India campaign is all about.

Sex crimes
Fight against sexual crimes. Pixabay

October 2, 2017: Sexual Exploitation of Children is one of the leading concerns for authorities in India. Around 53 per cent children in India face sexual abuse. In India, at least 10 children are sexually abused daily. Thus there is an urgent need to address the problem. This is what the Safe Childhood Safe India campaign is all about.

A national level walkathon has been organized in Indore in order to bring to light the devastating situation in our country relating to sexual abuse of Children. This walk has been termed as the “Bharat Yatra” undertaken with the initiative ‘Bachpan Surakshit, Bharat Surakshit’ (Safe Childhood, Safe India) and is taking place on October 3, 2017. The rally organized by the crucial partner for the event, ‘Young Indians (Yi)’ will commence from Khandawa Road, DAVV Campus at 9:30 pm and will end at Holkar Science College. Kailash Satyarthi, the Nobel Prize Winner for Peace will address the crowd after the rally has concluded. It is his foundation which has launched the safety walk.

 Young Indians (Yi) is a part of Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) which is non-government, not for profit organization which has played an integral role in the development of India. It was developed in 2002 with a vision to help the young people of India to realize and develop their potential.

child sexual abuse – pixabay

 As told by Pooja Bhatt of Yi, “As a part of their 100 million campaign activities in India, the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) has launched the “Bharat Yatra” in order to promote the concept of safe childhood for a safe nation. She furthered explained the objective of the campaign which was to break the silence that surrounded the sexual exploitation of the children and to urge the authorities to protect the children all over the country. This walk also provides support to the already exploited children and spreads awareness that they are not alone and encourages them to lead a normal life. This march was started off on September 11 and is to be continued until October 16. It is primarily being led by Kailash Satyarthi and is spread across 22 states and union territories of the country. The reach out level of this really is more than 10 million people and this includes the government officials and decision makers at it topmost level.


Some of Yi’s other work in the field of prevention of sexual exploitation of children include the launching of project MASOOM. This project was launched by Kailash Satyarthi nationally on 12th March 2017. This project involved spreading awareness about child sexual abuse among the teachers and parents by conducting various workshops and seminars. Yi also visited various schools to educate the children about safe and unsafe touch. They organized various public rallies and campaigns to make the general public aware as well.

Prepared by Saloni Hindocha of Newsgram

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Know Violence in Childhood : A New Study Reveals 1.7 Billion Children Suffer Violence Annually, Links it to Violence Against Women

Issued by Know Violence in Childhood, an international advocacy group, the report is titled ‘Ending Violence in Childhood: Global Report 2017’

A Rohingya Muslim child kisses his mother as they rest after having crossed over from Myanmar to the Bangladesh side of the border near Cox's Bazar's Teknaf area, Sept. 2, 2017. Tens of thousands of others crossed into Bangladesh in a 24-hour span as they fled violence in western Myanmar, the UNHCR said. (VOA)

New Delhi, September 29, 2017 : A new study has challenged popularly held belief that cases of child labor and violence against children are committed only in poor countries. This new research has revealed that nearly three out of four children in both, poor and rich countries alike, around the globe experience violence each year.

Issued by Know Violence in Childhood, an international advocacy group, the report is titled ‘Ending Violence in Childhood: Global Report 2017’. The report traces cases and nature of violence between the perpetrator and a child.

The study found that the menace of violence in childhood is a universal problem, and affects nearly 1.7 billion children over the course of a year. This includes bullying or fighting, sexual abuse, corporal punishment at home and in school, and sexual violence.

Shockingly, the report confirmed that violence in childhood is linked with violence against women. Children who witness abuse of their mothers are more likely to become victims or perpetrators of abuse when they grow up, it said.

Statistics revealing the persistence of violence in childhood. (VOA)

The researchers focused on violence between the perpetrator and the child. They did not include violence from war and other events. They took more than three years to document the scale of violence experienced by millions of the world’s children.

The report also looked at strategies to end the violence.

Rayma Subrahmanian, executive director of Know Violence in Childhood, said children are exposed to emotional and physical punishment from as early as 2 years old.

Adriana Maria dos Santos, mother of the late Vanessa do Santos, and a friend, Laisa, cry over Vanessa’s casket during her burial in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 6, 2017. The 10-year-old child was killed two days earlier after being hit in the head (VOA)

Subrahmanian said violence is a learned behavior that is rooted in deep cultural norms. In some societies, beating is a form of discipline.

Children who are victims of violence often suffer immediate harm, but they also face lifelong physical and mental health problems — anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or attachment disorders, among others. As teens, boys are more likely to be involved with homicide and suicide. Girls are more likely to suffer sexual assault.

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Violence in childhood also inflicts an economic cost on society. Know Violence in Childhood said that children who experience violence at home or at school are more likely to be absent from school or to drop out. They are less likely to succeed in life and to get an education, researchers found. Also, up to 8 percent of global GDP is spent each year on repairing the damage caused by childhood violence, the study said.

While governments can put preventive measures in place, most governments fail to invest in tackling the root causes of violence, the report said. (VOA)