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Me(n)Too: Abused when young, fear of shame turns them quiet  

Representational picture

By Naveed Suhail

Anantnag, Nov 13: “I know him well. I see him sometimes,” says Rashid (name changed), a handsome young man, whose facial features are hard to miss.

 

“It feels as if I am being abused right now, right here” he says turning his face away, as his characteristic smile fades. “I feel ashamed of myself.”

Rashid lives in a village near Qazigund, Anantnag, hailing from a well-off family. He has studied in some of the best schools in the south Kashmir district.

Now in college, he met the worst in his life when he was in class five.

During a brief summer vacation then, a family friend gave him an “everlasting” and “most traumatic memory” of his life. Rashid was sexually abused.

“Traumatic, haunting or any other word cannot describe what it feels like to be a victim of child abuse,” he says.

Rashid recollects that he had gone to fetch peaches for his sisters from their orchard, where his parents didn’t allow him to go alone

His abuser, then a man in his 20s, he says, asked the 11-year-old Rashid to lie beside him on the green orchard surface.

“And the next thing I remember is…,” his voice trails off. “Later, he told me not to tell anyone about it. I complied.”

“I wonder if I told anyone back then, or a few years later, what would have happened,” he says, citing the reported cases where in no action followed. “Even the girl victims are not taken seriously. When it comes to boys, the people won’t believe it.”

Rashid has only recently opened up to his two close friends, gaining courage to think of exposing his abuser. Only the realisation of the accused being married and having a son stopped him.

At first, however, he didn’t realise what had happened. And later, when he had understood the bitter fact, he didn’t know what to say.

“I was ashamed, and today I am silent because of the society, which won’t accept me. I will be seen as unchaste. I am silent considering what my parents might have to go through.”

The accused in child abuse cases are convicted in only about 15% of the incidents. The male-child sexual abuse is under-researched and under-reported field, while reports indicate that crime against children in the valley is on the rise.

Rashid aspires to join Indian Administrative Service (IAS) to “make a difference”.

Unlike him, Shadab (name changed), a resident of Srinagar city, chose not to be entirely quiet about his worst nightmare, which happened to him in the favourite place of his childhood—his maternal home.

“I was very young, maybe in class second or third when it happened for the first time,” says Shadab.

Shadab says he told his brother, who is five years elder to him and cared for him.

“But he did nothing,” says Shadab, who asks a great deal of questions about society and sexuality, wondering if his brother understood the gravity of his trauma.

Shadab doesn’t want to talk to his brother about it anymore. He hasn’t visited his maternal home.

“It happened again after that, twice. The next year, he sodomised me again and had oral sex with me,” says Shadab, “It all would happen at night, when I was to sleep with him in his room.”

Shadab says he could not bear the physical and the mental pain that the abuse brought.

“I started having nightmares.”

He says he could not realise what had befallen till he was in class 10—the year in which he, he believes, turned into a porn-addict due to his childhood trauma.

“Sexual scenes would pacify me, I would feel relaxed like never before,” says Shadab.

“This might seem like a confession, but it is not. I have abnormal sexual behaviour and sexual drives, but it isn’t my fault,” Shadab, who curses himself, says.

Battling mood swings, he doesn’t have good terms with his family.

“I often get into conflict with them, though I feel bad about it later.”

Reading about the people who share his ordeal calms him, he says.

Shadab recently finished his college, and is set to join university for his post-graduation, aiming to become an appreciated individual.

Experts point out a flaw in the society for the indifference towards child sexual abuse cases. Dr Mudassir Hassan, Clinical Psychologist at the Government Medical College Srinagar, says: “The people believe that we live in a highly Islamic or religious culture, and, as such, things like these become a taboo in our society.”

He says the victims of sexual abuse suffer “psychotic issues” and need “professional help”.

“People bring to us some children who are depressed, showing abnormal behaviour, get unconscious, or keep crying. And almost every day, one among them is a victim of physical abuse,” says the psychologist.

“The problem is that the people think they are mentally-ill or gone mad. But in reality, they are the victims of sexual harassment,” he says.