By Rimli Bhattacharya
15 October, 2017 was the day when the “Me too” campaign kicked off speaking up against the sexual harassment of women.
We are indeed harassed, groped, raped, and molested. But have we ever thought a man can be sexually harassed too? No not a man, but a boy of eleven, an innocent child, who knew nothing of sex, nothing of semen, nothing of vagina, nothing of menstruation, nothing of circumcision, nothing of – the list is endless.
I give this abuse a name, which we have heard already: ‘Pedophilia’, child sex abuse. However, here the antagonist is a female.
He was a boy of eleven who grew up in a joint family. He was known for throwing tantrums. His mother was so encumbered with the daily chores that she handed over her son to a house-help of seventeen, who ran errands for the mother.
I give him a name – ‘Rudra’. Rudra was a vexatious child, who hated to bathe, especially during winters.
I give a name to the house-help, too. Let me call her ‘Sandhya’. She wasn’t exactly a Cinderella. Rudra says she was heavy, dusky, and also giggly.
With her cock a hoop nature, Sandhya hooked Rudra for a bath after telling him that she was going to show him something unusual and interesting. Let’s remember Sandhya was seventeen and Rudra, a child of eleven, at the time. Rudra didn’t understand the bait, as no child would.
The bathroom was a bit far from the main house. Sandhya disrobed Rudra, who was now stark naked. She massaged his whole body with oil. Gradually massaging his groin and buttocks, she held his penis in her palm. She laughed out loud as she said, “It’s too large for your age. You are a grown up, you should bathe yourself now. Why do you need me? But you know I can make it larger. Want to see, have fun, huh?”
Before Rudra could figure out what was happening, Sandhya had already started massaging his penis with the oil, with strokes, to and fro. Rudra felt strange. His penis turned strong and erect. He was bewildered. Was it a magic? Little did he know that the ordeal had just started. Rudra grew up physically all of a sudden, despite having the mind of a child.
As instructed by Sandhya, he lay flat on the floor when she removed her clothes and mounted on him. The smell of garlic and kitchen masala chocked the little boy. Sandhya forced him to suck her tiny nipples. She stroked him like a tigress, when he lay like a prey, vulnerable. He didn’t know what was happening to him. Then her juices flew. Panting, she released him. To his horror, he shrieked, “Look at my penis. It’s erect and full of blood.” Putting on her clothes, Sandhya said, “Chill! It’s not yours, its mine.” That’s the first time Rudra came to know that women bleed during period. He screamed, he wailed. But no one paid any heed to him because this boy hated bath during winters. They might have thought this was another drama.
Sandhya cleaned his erect penis of her menstrual blood. Her unshaven pubic hair and aggressive thrusting bruised his penis. The pain was unbearable, though the erect penis was unable to discharge semen. It remained erect for a long time. How would it become flaccid without releasing the semen? Following this, Rudra started having problems with his pee. There were droplets but that too after lots of pressure. During those early mornings of auto erections due to full bladder, it was so painful that it used to break his sleep at around four in the morning. The cuts and bruises caused by her pelvic thrust caused immense pain in his manhood.
In those days, Rudra would wonder: “Why did it happen to me? It hurts so much even now. I was circumcised. It became a butt of joke, a ridicule and unnecessary curiosity among school kids. Initially I thought it to be some sort of deformity or abnormality. May be such a strange thing attracted our house-help to satisfy her sexual hunger from an eleven-year-old like me.”
Sandhya’s sexual hunger could be attributed to her premenstrual phase. Also, when a woman bleeds, it’s very natural that her desire takes an upper hand. Sandhya satiated it through a child, a boy of eleven, who grew up all of a sudden.
Rudra, now a father and a good husband, is unable to get over the trauma, which he faced in his childhood. All these years, he kept quiet and suffered in silence because there were few avenues to release his agony.
Highlighting how child sex abuse could be devastating for children, a prominent resource on child sex abuse points out: “In many cases of child sexual abuse… children have been instructed by the abuser not to disclose the incident […] In a recent study in which children of five, seven, nine and 12 years were asked about whether or not they would keep a good, bad or embarrassing secret, different factors affected their secret keeping and telling. The most important result to emerge from this study was that five-year-old children’s secret keeping was solely determined by external factors, that is, whether or not they anticipated getting into trouble for keeping or telling secrets. Older children’s secret keeping was, however, regulated not only by external factor, but also by how they expected to feel about such disclosure.”
The National Centre for Victim of Crime, based in Washington DC, USA, further states that for “victims, the effects of child sexual abuse can be devastating. Victims may feel significant distress and display a wide range of psychological symptoms, both short- and long-term. They may feel powerless, ashamed, and distrustful of others. […] A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex.”
In such cases of abuse, the first step is to raise awareness and not to ignore what the child has to say. There may be a sudden change in his/her behavior. We need to talk it over. They may become secretive, they may show sudden outburst of anger, they may use vulgar words, and they might harm themselves. If need be, parents need to seek professional help; children too need counseling. It’s important not to leave a child with another person, who could be a relative, a close friend or any one. It’s not necessary that they should look like a monster. An abuser can allure a child in many ways. They can be charismatic even.
I narrated the story of one Rudra. There may be many more Rudras and many more Sandhyas. Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou had to deal with similar pain. But they outgrew it.
Child sex abuse is a gruesome offense. We need to reach out and speak up. A victim need not deal with the trauma till one’s death. If healing calls for writing, go ahead with it. If it calls for singing, go ahead and sing. If it calls for playing, go ahead and play. If it calls for confiding in someone, do it.
Disclaimer: True story, name changed to protect identity.
Rimli Bhattacharya completed Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of Technology. She obtained an MBA in supply chain management and is engaged in the corporate sector. Her essay on mental health was published in the anthology, A Book of Light (Speaking Tiger Books, 2016). She has written for several magazines and newspapers – Times of India, Engineering Journals, and other blogs. Rimli has been awarded as a Star Blogger by team Bonobology for her essay, “Running a solo Marathon”. She is a trained Indian classical dancer, based out of Mumbai, India. She tweets at: @rimli76
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