A lot has been said about ‘rape’ and it is exciting to realize that gradually, the society has begun to see the importance of addressing it and has started putting measures in place to curb or punish it.
I thought it was a new trend, till I spoke with other people of my generation and realized that a great number was sexually abused, both male and female. Only a few spoke with their parents about it and some were hushed, especially when the culprits had some level of spiritual authority. It was considered wrong to tarnish the image of people who were God’s representatives.
Today, I will not address the issue of spiritual authority, but will like to address the issue of shame and pain that accompany silence. Inability to express or address such pain can cause repressed emotions, which statistics show can have adverse effects like health challenges, issues with social and communication skills or expectations from others; on children even when they become adults.
It is enough that a child is hurt, he/she needs to let out the pain and receive reassurance. Our jobs as parents go beyond providing and directing; sometimes a child needs a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. Gone are the days of dictatorship in parenting, there is a lot to learn from children and the process of raising them. Repression can also take place when you discipline a child and stop him/her from crying. Just let them cry!
On the other hand, when children are abused sexually, it can be equally traumatic for the parents, making it difficult to actually stand in the office of ‘parent’ at that time. So, instead of exposing the child to your frustration only, it is necessary to get help. There are a lot of organizations available to help victims, including health facilities. There are designated personnel in health facilities who will assist with counselling and other services like administration of emergency preventive medication against HIV known as Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).
Now we know what to do in a rape emergency but please let us ensure caution. There have been cases of children molested by minders, relatives, drivers, neighbours and a lot more. Communication is necessary between parents and children, to bridge the gap. Children who are afraid of their parents or are always directed to keep quiet may not be confident to report sexual abuse. No matter how unimportant you feel your child’s opinion is, please raise them to speak.
We believe that with the measures put in place, the issue of rape will be curbed in no distant time and young people will be raised right to become adults who understand and accept the word ‘no’.
To listen to my take on preventing rape during the lockdown as well as other issues regarding children, please click here and send me questions if you have any.