SILENCE IS NOT ALWAYS GOLDEN (PROF. SREEDEVI KRISHNAN)

Published on 27 July, 2022
SILENCE IS NOT ALWAYS GOLDEN (PROF. SREEDEVI KRISHNAN)

The frequent occurrences of sexual abuse, rape and murder of young children in God's own country is great fodder for our hungry and opportunistic media who use, to their advantage, a wide variety of sensational topics for reporting and never- ending channel discussions. I often wonder if the unfailing regularity of such reports and discussions is making us callous and numb to the news of these horrendous crimes.

Kerala, no doubt, is a paradise for tourists but it is also a hotbed for organized sex- rackets helping foreign pedophiles enjoy a 'house-boat' stay with, not only kallu and karimeen fry, but also the company of ‘'young escorts’, belonging to poor families.These tourists know only too well, that a child growing up in extreme poverty, where survival is the only goal, falls an easy prey to their wicked desires.

The influential Catholic clergy and the 'spiritual Gurus' of the Hindus, successfully “buy” the silence of, or even convince, the victims into enabling them, with their sexual exploitations. Remember how Robin Vadakkanchery impregnated a 16 year old girl and “bought “ the silence of the entire family and even forced a false 'confession' from the girl's own father, that he was the one who committed the heinous crime.

In Kollam, Victor Daniel, murdered his own grand daughter after years' of constant rape and torture, while his wife and daughter were mute spectators to the crime. There are many such cases of fathers or mother's paramours sexually abusing young children, all the while, being enabled by the mothers..

It should not be taboo in our homes or classrooms, to talk about sex to our children and educating them about sexual perpetrators who are wolves that lurk among us, in
sheep’s clothing.

The role of the parents, especially the mother's, is of paramount importance to a child. A mother should be the trusted friend, confidante, guide, in short, a problem-solver. For that, the child should have immense confidence in the mother to discuss all her problems. Very often children hide bitter experiences for fear of either punishment or being branded as a liar. In most child abuse cases, the abuser is often a family member or a trusted family friend or a teacher. For example in a recent talk
show, a respectable lady confessed that her father's sexual advances to her were reported to her mother who pooh-poohed it as a figment of her imagination. After the
show, she received letters from numerous girls who were similarly exploited by their fathers.

A loving, close relationship and a friendly atmosphere at home is the right of every child contrary to having over- ambitious parents push their children to unrealistic
goals and vicariously trying to fulfill their own unfulfilled dreams . Children spend most of their time in schools which is why it is essential to have a healthy, teacher - student relationship, where the students feel free to open up. It issad , nowadays,how the School concentrates on academic success and how the
media go ga- ga over achievers, hardly realizing the damage they are doing to thepsyche of the rest of the children? Parents and teachers throw discretion to thewinds by comparing the brilliant with the average.Instead, we should love our children
unconditionally, make sure they are taught the right values in life to make them beautiful human beings.

Remember the highly politicised case of the rape and murder of two little Dalit girls inWalayar? The trial court acquitted the criminals due to the failure of the prosecution
to prove the crime, built on a shoddy police report. Soon after the verdict there werestate wide protests , vandalism, effigy burnings of Pinaray and AK Balan, Minister for Dalit Affairs, but nothing changed The criminals remained scot free and justice wasnot delivered.

What rekindled my interest in the case, is a recent report of the children's “ grief-stricken” mother's journey to get justice with the support of prominent political party
leaders and media and the fact that a very respectable scholar also donated hisprize money to the mother. What I cannot quite digest, is the fact that this mother, aswell as her husband, the girls’ stepfather, were both eyewitnesses to the frequentsexual abuse of these girls. During the 'inevitable' channel discussions, after the
tragedy, we heard the mother of the girl's mention that she was eye-witness to the
sexual abuse of her eleven year old daughter by a relative. The girls' stepfather too
says he lacked the physical strength to confront the guy and just warned him against
entering the house. They also witnessed their neighbours as well as the husband’s
friend who were sharing their dilapidated one room home, sexually abusing the
children . The silence of the mother and her husband and reluctance to take any
appropriate action in spite of being an eyewitness to the crime, is indeed shocking.
Why did the parents keep quiet about those wolves until they lost their second child in
a similar fashion, hardly a couple of months after the older girl's alleged suicide.
According to the girl's teachers, they noticed the girls' restlessness and reluctance
to sit on their seats, perhaps from injuries to their private parts. One teacher
happened to notice one of the girl's drawings of a beautiful butterfly savagely
destroyed by wanton boys . Though she referred the girl to the School Counsellor,
who strangely failed to break the stoic silence of the girl, neither of them followed up
on the case. A closer look at this tragedy shows blood on the hands of the parents,
the teachers, the counsellor and why.. even on ours. If only somebody could break
the 'silence' of those butterflies, they would not have been brutally killed for
someone's sport. Why wasn't the POCSO act implemented? The POCSO act of
2012 clearly states that not reporting an abuse is an offense. Under section 19 of the
act, it is mandatory to report the offense to the special juvenile unit or to the local
police. Failure to report the perpetrators, is punishable by a prison sentence, fine or
both. Also in 2018, the Union Ministry Of Law and Justice amended the act to declare
that there is no time or age bar to report a sexual offence and that a victime could
report an offence even a number of years after the abuse was committed. This
amendment is an improvement even on the American and European laws who
actually do have time bars in place.

In addition to the POCSO act , there is also the Justice Verma commission, that was
set up after the notorious Delhi gang rape and murder, to reform and reinvigorate
anti-rape laws. Based on our Constitution's Article 14, ‘Right to Equality’, in their 630
page report, the Justice Verma Commission recommends effective remedial
measures to prevent sex-exploitation . Though the Verma commission does not
recommend Capital Punishment, they are not against castration or life sentence-
“life” meaning the end of natural life.

The Government has these policies and agencies in place but it is also equally
important to closely monitor and supervise them, to make sure these policies are
implemented, and accountability, if they are not. “Eternal vigilance is the price of
liberty" and so, not only parents and teachers , but also each and every one of us,
should be vigilant in such cases.

In spite of these government commissions and acts, we sadly continue to remain
silent and reluctant to discuss this issue in our homes, in schools or at work.
Yes- ‘Silence is Golden,’ but NOT when it comes to reporting or raising awareness
about sexual abuse of children in our society.
As Martin Luther King correctly puts it, " The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression
and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that, by the good people.

 

Sudhir Panikkaveetil 2022-07-27 10:11:11
In Kerala media is the rapist. Their rape scenes are enjoyed by the viewers and their rating shoot up. Girls will never get justice. Who has the guts to call Kerala "State of rapists"?? The moral indignation of the writer is very much apparent in her writing. If no use in speaking better to be silent.
മലയാളത്തില്‍ ടൈപ്പ് ചെയ്യാന്‍ ഇവിടെ ക്ലിക്ക് ചെയ്യുക