Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Musings from someone who sees stories everywhere.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Our culture and child abuse

I was deeply moved by the significance and beauty of Nathdwara Pichwai paintings (See post and link to complete article in previous post below). What touched me most was how devotees worshipped Lord Srinathji as a divine child; a sweet, adorable, mischievous yet loving child.

In a land where the divine child is worshipped with such affectionate devotion, why are countless children being abused in various ways? The recent deaths of Baby Falak and Baby AfreenThese child abuse cases are only the tip of the iceberg in our society. Not only
fathers, but even mothers and other close relatives can be the active
perpetrators. Some people are simply not fit to be parents. Producing a child
can be a social fashion statement, and there are cases of even educated parents
who perceive their children as chattel/expendable extensions of their own egos.

However we may squirm at the attendant media hype, sensationalising cases such as Baby Falak and Afreen's do serve a
purpose by drawing public attention to such issues. Only a few years ago,
Indians refused to even acknowledge that child abuse exists in our own society. We
liked to bury our necks in the sand and aver that this was some figement of
Western imagination. Indian parents and families were unchallenged authorities
for children. Recently, a young girl in Mysore was forced by her father to beg
because she did not perform as per his expectations in exams. Even in the recent
past, society would have turned a blind eye to underlying issues, and people
would have said it is a family matter, and the parents have every right to teach
their kids a lesson. Community leaders would have supported this.

Child abuse in India goes far beyond such sensationalised cases . Social malaise covers middle and upper classes, from female infanticides
and sex determination tests to 'honour' killings of young lovers . Too many
people have kids just to prove a social point, they dont want them or love them.

When will people like us realise the futile anomaly of worshipping the divine spirit of childhood in temples, and then turning a blind eye to the abuse of real children in the dirty streets outside?


Anonymous said...

Love for the baby girl is culturally imbibed in us, I recently learnt this when one of my Gujarati neighbor invited my six month old daughter for pooja during recent Navami festival; It seems that small girls are worshiped and fed. Recent cases of abuse of girl child are because of the following facts and stigmas in our Indian society:
1. The girl is viewed as a economic burden.
2. Obsession for a male child to continue the family or inheritance

The second part on parental pressure on children is due to inherent insecurity about the future of our children however we well plan and the cut throat competition they face. Also there is a presence of a few agony aunts in our society whose children by default do well and they have no business other than poke into other children's affairs.
During my school days I had one in my colony...she used to make passes at my mother and sometimes my mother could not take it and I used to bear the brunt of a few less ranks in class. The day I got may career thru....I went to her house...and bluntly told her that it was her bad habit to poke her nose in other people's business...she was taken aback; She complained to my reputation in the colony took a nose dive.....any was after that incident she did not bother my mother nor my parents bothered me...

monideepa sahu said...

Thanks for dropping by. You're right, our culture teaches us to love children. But things are different in practice. The problem is with people like us, who like to poke our nose into others' affairs, and generally dictate terms to others and to children. Sadly, girls aren't the only ones who are abused. Little boys too are abused as chidl labour, etc.