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Help Your Child Identify Sexual Abuse

Published in ParentEdge Magazine, click here to read.

The tag of disability on a child or a woman who has undergone a sexual abuse as a reason to become soft target, give me chills down the spine. But it happens almost all the time. Why ? I am agitated to the core to rant about this issue due to the recent defamation of the six year old child, in the name of "special needs" to justify rape in the high end mainstream school premises.
In other words, the perpetrators of crime along with school endorse the view, that, a child with special needs is at much higher risk of such crimes. So, since their vulnerability is already high, the onus of misconduct lies more on the "mental status" of the child herself than the criminal.
I just fail to comprehend the illogic behind such stained notion?
Why is it that a sexual assault on a child with disability or having special needs is seen as a lesser crime? Special needs or none, child sexual abuse in itself is a heinous crime. As a society, community, parent, school, teacher its our duty to safeguard a child despite their ability to communicate. A neglected or unnoticed case of child sexual abuse irrespective of his or her special needs, is putting a child at a greater risk of similar incidences in future and empowering the paedophile.

To avoid this, teach your child with an acronym HELPING. Tell them the signs where they need to ask for help and share with parents.
HELPING things, which we can do to safeguard safety of  our children are:
H - Hug and Hoot : Teach the child that if someone hugs them again and again, they have to hoot or shout at loud voice. They have to come back home and tell mummy or papa.
E - Environment Friendly: In your absence, inform neighbours, security or a trusted friend to take care of kid. Always cross check information about care givers.
L - Love Making Scenes: We don't always control what we are watching on TV and what kids are learning from it. But if the situation is unavoidable, use it as an opportunity to educate them. Like how too much of kissing, putting hands in neck, tummy, thighs are part of bad touch and should be reported.
P - Pledge Patience : Take a pledge with your kids in a fun game to talk and share daily as to what happened at their school and in turn share your routine at office or home. Lend a patient ear to all what they have to say, without the fear of being punished or scolded for sharing mischievous acts. 
I  - In Between Legs/Chest/Bums: Don't wait for such incidents to occur to take a cue and talk about sex education to your kid. Make it a casual activity to teach the child about warning signs of bad touch - in between legs, chest, bums, lips. Make a routine, not a one time "keep your mouth shut" activity.
N - Neutral Response: As a parent we tend to set certain notions in our kids minds, unknowingly. One of them is sex. Please make sure when the child shares any gory details about themselves or someone in their circle, maintain a calm and don't shut the child up.
G - Genitals Name and Privacy: Don't settle toddlers for cute names for private parts. As soon as they start talking, teach them the right terms including undergarments. Take help of their toys to name them and during bath time. Also teach them how no one should remove clothes of their doll, teddy bear and from their own body.

We  can’t always accompany our kids everywhere they go, no matter how much we want to. What we can do is to empower our kids with the right information and instil the confidence in them to come to us with their doubts and fears.

On 23rd of every month, I write on disability theme for Parent Edge Magazine.

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To Age is To Love
Couldn't find a better photo from archives, but a Taj Mahal and two morons
who still believes in it ;p We are looking so younger in this pic.
Taken exactly a month after after wedding.

My older MIL, 82 years, often tells me her story of youth. One fine day, I was oiling my hair. Looking at which she said, "Jab hum juaan rahein, hamaar baal bhi bahut kaala rahein." . Took a pause looking at her jet white hair, then, continued "Ab hum budda gayien, baal sab safed..." left the sentence incomplete. Followed by her involuntary reflex, where she takes a glance at her husband's photo on the living room wall. Slight sobbing you can hear in the background with tears rolling down her uneven face.
This is a daily ritual. Each and every single morning that I have seen her till date. I don't remember a sunrise when she woke up and didn't mention to me about how much he miss being alone and how her husband has left her. When I look at her wailing inconsolably each passing day, I couldn't help but think how strong is the bond of marriage ? How we meet somebody, get married and make that person centre of universe over our life time? And from the time we get married, until death we go through ups and downs, fear, insecurities, failures, anxieties, unfulfilled dreams...
When we are not in our best of looks, wrinkled skin, shrunken - sunken - sulking eyes, droppy neck, cheeks, ear lobes, shaking weak legs, white thin hair, pale skin, faded eye lashes, everything living though lacking vigour. But  this old lady's heart, the same old heart keeps pumping the blood with the memories so fresh, each day, every minute remembering her husband.
By now, I know which places she had visited with him. Every single day she tells me this incident about going to Vaishno Devi and having food at the station. Its so close to her heart. With age she has bouts of dementia but not about her heart matters.
Why I am writing this?
Seeing her daily in and out going through the same routine and yearning for her husband I restore my faith in marriage and its bond for life. Not that I have respected it any lesser in the past but looking at the volatility of strength in relationships these days, it has surely shaken me up at times. I mean, a couple - how much we fight, argue, showcase our worth, talk about rights, crib, don't forgive act of negligence, epitome of an independent educated woman - Aaj Ki Naari. Constantly try to change the person we love,but for what ?
Has education, exposure to outside world, independence to choose, roam, travel and dress up has changed the rules of the game?
Does hierarchy exists in a husband and wife's relationship ? As we see our parents, grandparents - yes indeed. But, are we cut out to follow the same route ? Is it as easier for our generation too to wholeheartedly accept that yes - no matter what - you are my anchor and I do bestow all my faith in you,  for ever. I will follow you blindly, rely on your discretion, support you even when I know its not a profit making deal and trust your instincts more than mine ?
May be yes.
If we make ourselves a lot like our mothers, will it ensure peace at our heart. I mean, will our empowerment go away if we just don't challenge, constantly challenge the institution of marriage to fit in our lifestyle. And since there is no set precedence for such lifestyle, we are often left looking at our palms for answers.
As I see her, she is all alone with the good old memories - counting her blessings from the past.  I am sure she too had stood the test of times and fought and argued and superseded not once or twice but thousand times mowing her inner self respect or ego, what ever suits your taste. But is she remembering any of those bitterness now ? Sawaal hi nahi uthta.
Watching an old age couple married for some 60-70 years can give more inspiration and lessons on a marriage than anything in the world.
For me, the lesson is - to age is to love. Indeed.

In the Cab with Shri Shri Shri Bon Jovi Ji

Gori hai kalaaiyaan,Tu laade mujhe haari haari chudiyaan...
Apana Banaale Mujhe Baalama, Gori Hai Kalaayiya

Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Prada, dancing on this song from the movie Aaj Ka Arjun, i distinctly remember. We used have a VCR at home and all the thakeli or super-duper hit movie cassettes used to come home as soon as they are available, to watch in leisure rather an obsessive compulsive disorder. I was just 8-9 years, when classic Aashiqui, Saajan, Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahi, Maine Pyaar Kiya, Bees Saal Baad (horror) made impressions on my mind or set the romance standards so high. Ironically, sinha ji too watched those movies when he was 10 but sadly couldn't learn much. 

Those days VCR weren't that common, so in first screening we used to watch it,  then with mummy's friends over tea parties, then with our cousins (just a small pack of 10) over weekends since we used to stay in township and then during some family get togethers - where we will brush up our dialogues and songs again . That's how seriously bollywood business was taken in our house. In school, during recess i used to narrate or mimic scenes to my KV friends. Specially the scene from Bees Saal Baad, where Dimple Kapadia ke haath bahut bahut lambe ho jaate (kanun se bhi lambe) to reach Mithun.

Why i am thinking about all this sitting in the cab?

I am going for this interview, which is very important for me to crack. And this cabbie is listening to this song, Gori Hain Kalaaiyaan

Very unusual. 

If its early morning airport pick up, South Indian cabbies stick to Venkateswara Suprabhatam (a morning prayer for Tirupati) or vedic shloka chantings. Or the lazy ones just tune into FM bhajans. Only, when their filmi savaari ask them to play some peppy numbers they switch stations. But looks like this one is truly a bollywood fan, has his own playlist of 90s hindi songs. I am impressed. Tip to banati hai. 

Though, in my head the song i am yearning to listen is "It's My Life" from the universal Lord Shri Shri Shri Bon Jovi Ji. I don't have any of his bhajans or Nirvana's preaching or any song, in my phone. Most of my life turning decisions have been supported by this song. Either before or after. It's always playing in my mind. 

So, either I should tune into FM or listen to the next in his playlist. 

And the next torture is "Mat Roo Mere Dil, Chup Ho Jaa; Jo Hua So Hua" . I feel like hitting my forehead on the window pane or his on the steering. How do i tell him, "Abey tu mujhe discourage kar raha hai yaar" ! Even before the interview. Now, i desperately want to pay a homage to Jovi Ji. Let me search FM Indigo again - only station to play angrezi stuff. 

No no no. No luck.

I swear, interview main kuch jhol hua to HR wala yehi gana gayega mere liye.

After 35 mins.

Better stand tall when they're calling you out 
Don't bend, don't break, baby, don't back down..

Thakk Thakk Thakk...

It's my life 
And it's now or never 
'Cause I ain't gonna live forever 
I just want to live while I'm alive

Yes, yes. Finally. The consistent fidgeting on FM payed its due. 
So, the lesson from this episode is what PC said.