‘Open Secret’ is a Radio Active special series of educational segments that will focus on prevalent and pervasive ideas and incidences of childhood sexual abuse in India.
In the first segment, RJ Padma opened up the debate regarding myths surrounding child sexual abuse with psychologist and founder of the Mukhta Foundation, Dr. Ashwini N V. She brings to light the myths, preconceived beliefs and false information that people believe to be true about abuse.
The most prevalent myth surrounding child sexual abuse seems to be the notion that only women or girls suffer abuse. According to Dr. Ashwini, most male victims of child sexual abuse don’t have anyone to turn to. They are shunned and silenced despite being the victims of traumatic abuse similar to that of their female counterparts. This pressing problem is often shoved under the carpet and suppressed.
The myth that stranger equals danger is also widely believed, in spite of having been disproved by statistics. Nearly half the cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by someone known to the child. ‘Stranger Danger’ may make for a good phrase with a convenient ring to it, but it is not always true.
Dr. Ashwini also dispels the myth that the act has to involve penetration or even contact for it to be considered sexual abuse. The story of Keerthi (name changed) helps demonstrate that any kind of forcible sexual contact with a minor could have a profound effect on the child’s psyche. When Keerthi was preparing for a Physics exam in an empty classroom of her tuition center, the receptionist walked in, grabbed her and forcibly tried to kiss her. What followed was shock, guilt and
years of mental trauma.
Child sexual abuse is a growing problem and can only be curbed with education,
awareness and collaborative efforts. It is time to join hands and pledge to make this a better world for the children of today and tomorrow.
To join the conversation on child sexual abuse tune into Radio Active CR 90.4 MHz, or log onto the Radio Active SoundCloud page.