One in six boys and one in four girls face sexual molestation before they hit the age of 11, scary right? Also of all the cases that are reported, 70% assault is from a member of a family or a person known to the family, like a neighbour or a friend or a distant relative. So by not discussing this with your children you are probably pushing them into the danger zone more and more. Paedophiles are mentally ill. It is very difficult to identify a paedophile from a normal person, for their outward behaviour will not be much different from a regular person. When two family members, who are closely related by blood and birth engage in any form of sexual activity, it is termed as incest. It is illegal in most countries and considered as a taboo in most cultures and religion. Rhiti takes a hard look into the grim realities of paedophilia and incest. Here’s an expose into the taboo subjects that we, the ‘good people’ do not talk about, often endangering our children, exclusively in Different Truths.
Children are safest in their own homes, or are they? Well mostly, but for some children, dangers lurk in the corners of the safe haven too! Paedophilia and incest are two such words which probably give us that creepy uncomfortable feeling, which we don’t really talk about much to our children, but we must. If you simply google the word ‘paedophile’ right now you will be amazed at the number of sick revelations that will pop up on your screen.
I have been researching for this article and I have been feeling sick to the core. I don’t want to bother you with the numbers and statistics, you can get that information yourself if you want by doing a simple web search, but what I want to talk about is how we can keep our children safe and about the general awareness about paedophilia and incest.
What is Paedophilia? Who are Paedophiles?
One in six boys and one in four girls face sexual molestation before they hit the age of 11, scary right? Also of all the cases that are reported, 70% assault is from a member of a family or a person known to the family, like a neighbour or a friend or a distant relative. So by not discussing this with your children you are probably pushing them into the danger zone more and more.
“Paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children. Although girls typically begin the process of puberty at age 10 or 11, and boys at age 11 or 12, criteria for paedophilia extend the cut-off point for prepubescence to age 13. A person who is diagnosed with paedophilia must be at least 16 years old, but adolescents must be at least five years older than the prepubescent child for the attraction to be diagnosed as paedophilia.
Paedophilia is termed as ‘paedophilic disorder’ in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), and the manual defines it as a paraphilia involving intense and recurrent sexual urges towards and fantasies about prepubescent children that have either been acted upon or which cause the person with the attraction distress or interpersonal difficulty.” (Definition source: Internet)
Also note that both men and women have been diagnosed with this mental disorder, where they find young children sexually desirable, although the number of men in ratio to women is more. A sexual offender who targets a child is not always a paedophile. He/she is someone who will abuse anyone who is weaker than them as an act of power over the human body. Paedophiles are mentally ill.
It is very difficult to identify a paedophile from a normal person, for their outward behaviour will not be much different from a regular person. But watch out for that person, who stands way too close to children, only interacts with children and not with other adults, brushes against children playfully and tries to hug or kiss a child forcefully.
Child-grooming as an Active Paedophilic Tool
Child-grooming loosely refers to the act where the paedophile gains confidence and trust of a child before making a move.
If your child suddenly becomes fond of a neighbour, who has moved in next door, or an uncle he/she did not like earlier, keep an eye. Paedophiles are excellent communicators with children, they will often use chocolates, sweets, toys and other small things to impress the child and gain the child’s love. Paedophiles calculate and act out their actions, so grooming the child becomes a part of the act itself.
Always teach your child that if someone gives them a chocolate, they do not need to return a favour. A gift is a gift, if an adult asks for favour in return, he possibly could be grooming the child for the heinous crime he is about to commit.
Child pornography is illegal, and yet it is easily available all over the web. A lot of unsuspecting children contribute to it, without even being aware of it. Paedophiles who don’t have access to a child often fall back on child pornography and the internet is full of them. With mobile cameras around, things have gotten even worse. Make sure no friend or relative films your child without your consent, teach your child to say ‘No’. Before you post a cute photograph of your beautiful baby girl on a beach wearing a swimsuit or even wearing a saree posing for a school function, remember there are perverts all around, who are watching you and your children. For you it might me a sweet photo, for them it is soft-porn.
Don’t allow your child time alone with an internet connection at home without parental supervision. Always keep a track of people they are talking to.
What is Incest?
When two family members, who are closely related by blood and birth engage in any form of sexual activity, it is termed as incest. It is illegal in most countries and considered as a taboo in most cultures and religion.
When two siblings engage in sexual encounters, it is termed as sibling-sibling incest, it is something that is hardly reported and thus goes mostly unnoticed. This comes under the child-on-child sexual abuse. It can happen with or without consent.
Sibling-abusive- incest is most widespread in families, where one or both parents are often absent due to work or other commitments or are emotionally unavailable for the children. In most cases, it is the stronger and older sibling forcing power over the weaker and younger sibling. Single parent families are also vulnerable to such incidents, especially if the father is absent and the brother is abusive. The detrimental effects on both childhood development and adult symptoms resulting from brother–sister sexual abuse are similar to the effects of father–daughter, including substance abuse, depression, suicidality, and eating disorder in the children who faced it.
Between an Adult and a Child
Incest between an adult and a child is usually considered a form of child sexual abuse and for any years has been the most reported form of incest. Father–daughter and stepfather–stepdaughter incest is the most commonly reported form of adult-child incest, with most of the remaining involving a mother or stepmother.
According to multiple studies through the world. it has been found that stepfathers tend to be far more likely than biological fathers to engage in this form of incest. This may be the case in both heterosexual and homosexual incest.
Adults have easy access to children who are present at home and it is quite a common form of sexual abuse which goes mostly unreported, since in the Indian scenario we are more worried about the honour and shame of the family rather than the safety of the child.
In a 1999 news story, BBC reported, “Close-knit family life in India masks an alarming amount of sexual abuse of children and teenage girls by family members, a new report suggests. Delhi organisation RAHI said 76% of respondents to its survey had been abused when they were children—40% of those by a family member.” (Source: Web)
“A study of victims of father–daughter incest in the 1970s showed that there were ‘common features’ within families before the occurrence of incest: estrangement between the mother and the daughter, extreme paternal dominance, and reassignment of some of the mother’s traditional major family responsibility to the daughter. Oldest and only daughters were more likely to be the victims of incest. It was also stated that the incest experience was psychologically harmful to the woman in later life, frequently leading to feelings of low self-esteem, very unhealthy sexual activity, contempt for other women, and other emotional problems.” (Source: Internet)
If at all you are aware of such a situation, where a child is being victimised incestuously, you must report it to the police and create a safer environment for the child.
Adult incest is a different topic altogether, I have only looked at cases, where a child might be involved and at risk.
Effect of Paedophilia and Incest on the Child:
Apart from the obvious sexual pain and anger that a child might face both paedophilia and incest leave a deeper scar on the human mind. An adult who was incestuously victimised or sexually abused as a child often suffer from low self-esteem, they will have difficulties in interpersonal relationships, and face sexual dysfunction, and are at an extremely high risk of many mental disorders, including depression, anxiety disorders, phobic avoidance reactions, somatoform disorder, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, borderline personality disorder, and complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
Proper counselling and love and support from the parents and caregivers might lessen the pain and trauma.
How to Keep Your Children Safe?
As a human being and as a part of the world we live in it is our duty to make sure that children are safe from such perversions. To ensure that we can do a few things and we can teach our children a few things
- When children disclose they were sexually abused they are in most cases telling the truth 95-98% of the time. Believe them! Act upon it. Report it.
- Sexual abuse happens when a child is alone with the paedophile in a car, an empty classroom or hallway, a private office, or even in a hidden area of a public place like a shared sleeping bag at a camp out or a dark movie theatre. Try and avoid leaving your children with adults you don’t trust in such cases.
- Children who are subjected to spanking or other harsh discipline are less likely to tell their parents about sexual abuse because they are afraid they will be punished for telling. So be kind and gentle towards your children, the harsher you are, it is less likely that they will trust you.
- Always be weary and suspicious of adults, who are more comfortable interacting with children only and show no or very little interest in other adults.
- Never force your child to kiss or hug a relative or a family friend, who the child is not comfortable with, let them think your child is rude, but never force a child.
- Take them to sex education classes from as early as 5-year- old, or teach them yourselves at home about good touch and bad touch.
- More often than not, a child herself/himself does not know what has happened to them, or why they were physically violated. They mostly don’t have the vocabulary also to support their feelings and experiences. They can’t differentiate between a physical violence and sexual violence, so always be patient with a child who has suddenly fallen quite, or showing signs of distress.
- Make sure you tell your child not to undress in front of people, and not allow people to take photographs of them without their clothes on.
- Stop any adult from engaging into games of ‘keeping secrets’ or ‘Force tickling’ or constantly trying to hug and cuddle your child when he/she doesn’t want to. Don’t allow any adult to address your child as his/her husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend.
- If you hire a caregiver, make sure you do background check. Install CCTV, if possible before leaving the child completely with a person you do not know.
- Trust your instincts, if you are yourself uncomfortable about a person, never allow that person near your child.
The Child Helpline number in India is 1098. You can call them up in cases of doubt or advice in situations you do not know what to do next when you encounter a case of paedophilia or incest.
Give children your trust and love, make them feel safe. Even if you are not the parent or guardian of the child, ensure that you provide help, as much as possible if a child turns to you asking for support. We must all protect children from the perversion that prowls around waiting to take advantage of their innocence.
©Rhiti Chatterjee Bose
Pix from the Net.
Based in Bhubaneswar, Rhiti is a mother to two adorable trouble makers. She is a writer and editor, with several online and print publications. She is also the founder of Incredible Women of India, an e-zine, documenting real life inspirational stories of Indian women. When not writing, she morphs into an obsessive cake and cookies baker, a self-proclaimed Madhubani artist and a compulsive reader.