I suppose many have you have been following the awesome effort on CSAA. If not go there right now:
Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month. The team has spared no effort in making this month count. There are a number of chats, discussions, articles, suggestions, survivor stories, and much much more.
For the most part, I have been passively looking at the tweets and reading the articles and nodding sagely at the various suggestions that have come up. I have thumbed through the resources and hopefully filed away information in the head. As a mother of a vivacious eight-year old this stuff is at the same time undeniably scary and amazingly useful.
Raising awareness about this very real issue seems to be finally possible. This is what is really heartening to me. We are, despite all our hoo-hah and attempts at modernity, a very conservative country overall. We love nothing more than sweeping the very real issue of Child Sexual Abuse under the rug and pretending we are all saints and this is something that is a 'Western Concept' and as long as we raise our children in India, with the right 'value system', they (we) are safe. Personally this type of dialogue is what I hate the most about my country people, and so it has been really great for me to see this initiative take off like it has. Especially today, as I glance away from the newspaper which prominently features the death of that innocent little baby girl Afreen...
Growing up, we were two girls in a household filled with adults. I am really happy that my childhood was great and I have no survivor/victim stories to report. I totally have my mother to thank for that. With a lot of difficulty, she dealt gamely with the various accusations - "obsessive mother" "over-protective" "draconian" "too much discipline" "too proud" "spoiling her children" etc. - and ensured that situations of potential abuse were avoided.
I don't remember my father being overtly involved. Mum was working. She was doing all that stuff we do. The juggle. Family. Old people in the house. Kids. School. Cooking. Cleaning (that she is definitely obsessive about!!). I am still amazed how she managed to give us a childhood filled with happy memories. You guys see how I go back in time so often and talk about my growing up years on this blog...Hopefully you see that I really loved it! And felt safe and secure and confident...
As a mother myself, I see now how difficult this job is. I have had the mandatory talks with my own daughter. Trying to equip her with the confidence, the words, the tools necessary to keep herself safe... I have avoided many situations that scare me - and tried to be as sensible as possible. It has involved some severe time management and jugglery, and both of us have shouldered what we consider our duty as parents, surely, but we have also been very lucky in terms of accessible and enthusiastic help from our parents.
But I know we cannot smother-protect her for ever (this is definitely more me than my husband. He is crazily protective of her in the sense that I fear for the life of her future boy-friends, but is 'brave' in new situations compared to me). She is now in the real world. She is in a swimming class - there are older kids there and many many instructors. My heart has skipped a beat thinking about that just now, as I write this. She is in school for long hours and I have no idea about anything there. Its a good school, reputation-wise, but what does that mean anyway? She is growing up too fast too fast and every day when I wake her up in the morning and look at that innocent face, I feel overwhelmed with joy and fear and love and worry.
I would totally like to pretend that abuse of any kind doesn't happen 'to us'. I would love to be that ostrich with my head in the sand. Totally. I would love to be the other kind of parent as well. The kind that doesn't let her child out of sight. Waits outside the school gates and within a meter radius of child at all times. But the harsh reality is that I can be neither. The child, the world, my own better sense, (not to mention her other parent!) won't allow for it.
From a deep personal view-point therefore, I am un-describe-ably glad for the CSAA blog, and this awareness month. I thank you all for sharing, caring, educating, opening eyes, making this a better world.