The Elephant In The Room

I still remember the chill that ran through my body when she told me about it. I was suspended in disbelief, trying to reckon whatever she had told me. The horrific narrative of the uncountable times she had been sexually abused by her father’s friend. It took me moments of complete numbness to grasp what she was disclosing though she was not the first person who came up to me and opened up about the story of her being abused.

Hers is one of many stories that I know of or where people opened up to me. Do I tell you about the girl who was beaten up by her father only because she opened up about being followed by a stranger, or do I tell you about the shameful act that my friend’s school teacher did and how he threatened her of failing her in the exams if she opened her mouth?

I am sure many people reading this article can relate to these stories in one way or the other. As much as I hate saying this, I will say it with a very firm belief that we Kashmiris have shut our eyes to issues like these. We still live in a bubble where ‘sex’ and ‘sexuality’ are two phenomena that happen to us only when we marry. Living in this congealed idea that ‘kasher’ are too innocent and it’s a Western thing and has no roots in our society is ridiculous to say the least. As redundant as it gets and sounds, sexual abuse is a taboo in Kashmir, and I bet you people who preach such ideals are the  poachers of innocence and the biggest nymphomaniacs behind closed door. The abused still have to go behind the curtains to protect their name.

Sexual abuse cannot be confounded within the narrow definition of what we generally think of when we hear the term. Sexual abuse happens when you are in a hurry, and, you are taking that overcrowded ‘metadoar’ minibus and to your disadvantage since you are standing, the man behind you silently gropes you or leans his entire body onto yours. Sexual abuse happens when the entire ‘adda’ ogles at you and passes sexually explicit comments. Sexual abuse happens when a guy in the high school sends you pornographic pictures to tell you how much he fantasises about you.

The shame in talking to our children about sexuality, telling them at an early age the difference between a good touch and a bad touch, giving our children the power and comfort to come forward and report these things without the fear of being judged and shamed, the spread of sex education in schools, and primarily at homes are the least things we can do.

Thumbs up to the movements like ‘#metoo’ where people are given the platform to speak up against what we all have to go through and nobody really cares or talks about it. But is it only the big shots and celebrities that actually commit crimes like these? How many more ‘Aasifas do we need’? How many more perverts acting as Maulvis do we need to sodomize our boys and rape and molest our girls to accept that sexual assault is real? When will we learn getting raped is not the shame for the victim? When will we empower our women to speak up against issues like these? When will we stop saying, ‘ladki nay he kuch kia hoga’ to every case that is reported. 

Sexual abuse is widespread in Kashmir. Only 7% of the cases are reported. What’s sadder is that whatever cases of sexual abuse against children are even reported have a very bleak legal discourse; Jammu Kashmir has no enacted law for the conviction of these abusers. We haven’t even considered legislating issues like these.

These weaknesses and loopholes of an inherently flawed legal system, serve as an enabler of the exploitation of a certain class, and this goes hand in glove with the corruption and cronyism of the political paradigm. Shame on these ‘hungry-for-power-scums’ who have never come forward and raised an issue like this. The political situation of our state has swept many important things under the carpet.

But a major question arises what has led to this sexual frustration in our society? Why have we become animals unable to control our sexual urges? One of the major reasons is that women are still seen as objects for sexual gratification, a creation just to quench the lustful thirst of men. We are still brought up in patriarchal set up, where, more than teaching our men about respecting women and lowering their gaze, we teach our girls to guard their ‘haya’. This faulty upbringing leads to fallacious behaviorism amongst our children. But does this answer all the questions? The answer is a big NO. How will we as a society account for the massive mushrooming of the cases of sodomy? What has created this animalistic and vulgar attitude in our society? Delayed marriages? But these reasons go only a little way in rationalizing the low levels we have stooped to, to fulfill our barbaric sexual desires. It’s often said that conscience should be the law enforcer, does this behaviorism mean that the good in us is dead. It’s high time that we have laws and legislations that set exemplary punishments for the accused. Fear needs to be instilled in the hearts of these barbaric animals. Maybe the principle of deterrence is the only way left out.

It’s high time that the elephant in the room is addressed. Closing our eyes to reality will not address these issues. Movements like “meToo” are praiseworthy, yet these are only short lived momentous waves that are only going to last for the moment. We can’t obliterate or ignore the realities it has acquainted us with. We need to know that problem identification is only the first step towards problem solving. Sexual abuse is gnawing at our morality and society. How many more victims do we need before we accept, “MEN AND WOMEN ARE RAPED IN KASHMIR?, and we are nothing but silent and dead spectators.

Maybe all the parents reading this article should dare to ask their children this question today,“ Have you ever been sexually abused?”.  





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