She was ten. Brushing her bobbing pigtails one extra time, she patted them down. White, with pink and purple flowers. This was her favorite frock.
Everyone said he was very smart. One day, maybe, you will also go to IIT, they used to tell to her. She couldn’t wait to grow up and be like him. Ravi was her favorite cousin. Always brought her chocolates. Cadbury Eclairs. And took her on piggy-back rides and made her giggle. And when mum wasn’t around, he would sneak her off to get ice cream. Butterscotch.
She sat next to him on the edge of the bed, feet dangling and swinging, and showed him her new painting. I won the second prize for it, she said, her face beaming with pride. That’s very nice. You know, those flowers on your dress are very nice too, he said, as he started to trace their outlines. His fingers slowly ran up her thigh.
She did not want to grow up and be like him. She did not want to grow up.
Written as part of the Blank Noise Blog-a-thon 2006. Although, since this isn’t about street harassment, which is the topic of the blog-a-thon, I am not entirely sure if it qualifies.
Sexual harassment and abuse of children younger than twelve years old constitutes a good percentage of the total reported cases. And yet, the available statistics hardly reflect reality. A large number of children don’t even know how to identify abuse, forget report it. Even more so, when the abuser is a family member.
As adults, we have some ways to oppose harassment. Whether we do or not, is a different matter. But we can yell, scream, try to fight back physically and attempt to raise awareness about it. But what does a child do? Their inherent trust in adults, their fear to question their motives and actions, and their own inability to distinguish between right and wrong often leaves them powerless.
If you know or suspect that a child is being abused, talk to you local authorities or call
In the US — Stop It Now! at 1-888-PREVENT or The Sexual Abuse Helpline at 1-800-4A-CHILD.
In India — Childline at 1098.
Other countries — Check the Child Helpline International website.
Action Hero Megha