The Catalog: Boys Must Also Be Protected From Abuse
A Myth is Not A Monolith
As part of its awareness campaigns, the movement against child sexual abuse has frequently & successfully resorted to the myth vs reality dialectic. One of the more prominent fixtures goes something like this:
Myth: Victims of Child Sexual Abuse are almost always girls.
Reality: Boys can also be victims of child sexual sexual abuse.
On this front, there has certainly been a breakthrough in which we have seen society’s absolute denial being turned into some kind of tacit acknowledgement that – yes, boys too can be sexually abused. But the scale and seriousness of the issue continues to be underplayed.
There is readily available data from across the country and the world that clearly posits that boys are almost equally at risk as girls. But this approach feels limited. Clearly, it is not just a data problem. It is an attitude problem. The myth that boys can never be victims of abuse is no singular manifestation. It results from a complex series of social and cultural misconceptions and prejudices that have festered in our collective minds over time.
And just as the literature and the movement around child sexual abuse has been enriched and made robust by engaging with relevant discussions around patriarchy, sex education, health, online safety etc, the need of the hour is to now engage with masculinity & its constructions.
Already we have seen societal attitudes around sexual abuse of male children seep into policy and systems. This effectively excludes boy i.e. around half the victims from essential services like one stop crisis centres & victim compensation schemes. It is a potential crisis that calls for immediate clarity and inclusivity.
Shouldn’t be too hard. The tree has fallen. Now for the dirty messy work of clearing the roots.
The recent cases of young boys being abused in Mumbai have briefly brought to the forefront conversations around sexual abuse of boys. In this post, we look at the oft-quoted statistics from the 2007 report on child abuse in India by the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare. Only this time our focus is on data related to victim boys. The data speaks clearly:- in almost all form of sexual abuse, the number of boys who have faced abuse are equal to the number of girls who have faced abuse, if not more.
1. Boys and men can be sexually used or abused, and it has nothing to do with how masculine they are.
2. If a boy liked the attention he was getting, or got sexually aroused during abuse, or even sometimes wanted the attention or sexual contact, this does not mean he wanted or liked being manipulated or abused, or that any part of what happened, in any way, was his responsibility or fault.
3. Sexual abuse harms boys and girls in ways that are similar and different, but equally harmful.
4. Boys can be sexually abused by both straight men and gay men. Sexual abuse is the result of abusive behavior and is in no way related to the sexual orientation of the abusive person.
5. Whether he is gay, straight or bisexual, a boy’s sexual orientation is neither the cause nor the result of sexual abuse.
6. Girls and women can sexually abuse boys.
7. Most boys who are sexually abused will not go on to sexually abuse others.
“As a teen, I grew up blaming myself for it. It was only later that I had the epiphany that not only was I not at fault, but I’m also just a speck in the larger picture — one of the many million men who are sexually abused every year.”
4 testimonies of men who have faced and survived abuse, voices that have mostly gone unheard. A poignant and sobering read.
“The impulse to view the rape narrative as exclusively that of a man violating a woman does an injustice to those whose own rape stories do not fit the typical mould that is easiest for us to understand. As these survivors have finally found the courage to share their stories with us, legislating on such an impulse is in itself a criminal act.”
A former director of an Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender counselling and sexual health centre in New Delhi walks a thin line as he passionately & comprehensively advocates making rape a gender-neutral crime.
Also, Sign This Petition: There’s a popular petition currently online advocating with the Honorable Minister of Women & Child Development to order an in depth study on sexual abuse against male children in India. It is a worthy cause that can use your support.
Andrew Reiner who teaches a course on masculinity and wrote the viral article ‘Talking to Boys the Way We Talk to Girls‘ has now taken to writing the occasional article for New York Times on the subject. There’s Teaching Men to Be Emotionally Honest, The Fear of Having a Son & Teaching Generation Y The basics of a Strong Relationship. He has an affecting style that is personal and illuminating. Part advice column, part in-depth essay, he gently decodes and critiques masculine stereotypes & codes and encourages you to think beyond.
Also, its a bit sad to see that the facebook page of South Asian Network to Address Masculinities (that wonderfully abbreviates to SANAM) has stop being updated. Nonetheless a scroll down is still worth your while & will give you access to a trove of articles, art and commentary on the subject.
A class 2 student was found with his throat slit in the school toilet on Friday morning. A school bus conductor was arrested later that day for the murder and for allegedly trying to sexually assault the boy before attacking him. Possible criminal negligence by the school is being investigated.
A 5 year old child was being abused by the peon of her school. Once the abuse was reported it was revealed that the child had disclosed about the abuse to her teacher and yet no action had been taken. There was also an allegation that the teacher had attempted to bribe the girl into silence.
It took the death of 70 children to bring to light the crumbling infrastructure and gangrenous corruption of a major government hospital. The prime minister chose to term the incident a ‘natural calamity.’
The currents of corruption & negligence drifted along with unseasonal south eastern winds and struck the hospital 600 kms away in the town of Farrukhabad. 30 children have died in this new national calamity. The honorable CM probably realizes that it is high time to appease the gods & prepare for a yagna or two.
Feminism in India & TARSHI have launched a campaign ‘#WhyCSE’ to emphasize the need for Comprehensive Sexuality Education in schools. The campaign explores the role of schools and educators in discussing sexuality related topics with young people, and how sexuality education goes beyond ‘sex ed’ or talking about sex. It also encourages teachers to incorporate sexuality education in their everyday teaching and interaction with children and young people by offering a short online course on Comprehensive Sexuality Education.
Also as part of the campaign, Tarshi is offering their acclaimed eLearning Course on Sexuality for Teachers at a discount. Click here to Sign Up.
The POCSO Crime Log is a monthly chronological listing that tracks POCSO Cases reported in reliable media sources. 112 cases came to our notice in the month of June 2017.
#Culture of Love
‘Culture and tradition should bring us together, not drive us apart.’
The new campaign from United Nations Free & Equal makes an emotionally appeal for you to interpret culture & tradition in an open and inclusive manner and to stand up for equal rights and fair treatment for LGBTI people everywhere. There’s also a petition on the page that you can support.
The animated story of a boy and his heart that won over the world. If you haven’t watched it yet, you need to do so right now.