November 29, 2013

Is Indian parenting failing to help children cope with puberty and adolescence?

Re-quoting from my earlier post (link):


// I really want to know: What would you do if you find your adolescent daughter in a compromising position with a servant? Do you see killing or physically abusing her out of rage as an option? Do you see this as your daughter's fault because she shamed your family or do you see this as child sexual abuse perpetrated by your servant? Can any sexual interaction between a child and an adult be seen as anything but child sexual abuse? Or do you consider other factors like how she dressed, whether she agreed to or not, like this judge who blamed a 10 year old for her own rape (link)? Do we as a society at some level see children as property in which parents have invested to uphold the family 'honor'? Isn't our parenting system lacking in helping children cope with puberty and adolescence? Here's what I think you ought to do: 


1. Fire the servant and register a complaint against him for child sexual abuse.2. Talk to your daughter openly without intimidating her and understand what she is going through. Help her deal with her puberty phase. Counsel her about the emotional and biological consequences of having sex before reaching certain maturity. 

3. Let her know that she can always trust you to support her and that she is most welcome any time to complain about any uncomfortable behavior she is facing from any person, however powerful she thinks that person might be. If she doesn't trust you to complain to you about abuse, how can you ever protect her? //



Here are some more questions for Indian parents to dwell upon:

  1. Is your child in teens/pre-teens comfortable enough to discuss with you questions and confusions about sex, puberty and/or menstruation and other biological changes they are going through? Have you built that level of comfort or openness with your children?
  2. Does your child trust you enough to report/complain to you about any uncomfortable he/she has encountered from anyone (including your family members and acquaintance)? Have you informed your child about any signs of abuse he/she can look out for?
  3. Will you be an unflinching support system for your children to help them cope with their adolescence/puberty? Will you pro-actively educate them about the biological changes they'll go through during this phase so that they are not confused?
  4. How are we going to ever deal with child sexual abuse if we never utter the 'sex' word in front of our children?
Here are some helpful links for parents to go through. The entire posts are worth-reading. Please do go through them:

// One day my kids came from the park and wanted to know if what their friend A, then 11, had told all the kids in the park was true. What A had told them would have put a B Grade movie director to shame. My first thought was to call her mother and give her a piece of my mind. I had told my kids how the baby first looks like a bean, then a lizard… and I had shown them pictures of a fetus growing in the womb, even talked about the Sperm and the Egg, and but I had totally avoided the question, asked once and then forgotten, about how does the sperm reach the egg.
Well, now someone else told them, and this was definitely not how I would have chosen for them to learn!I had talked to them about child abuse. They knew they could say NO to anybody picking them up, touching them or talking to them in any way that made them uncomfortable....// Read more: link

2) http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/recognize-child-sexual-abuse/

// What is child sexual abuse? 
Child sexual abuse is defined as “utilizing a child for sexual gratification by an adult or older child in a position of power, or permitting another person to do so.”
Non-touching sexual offenses:
- Indecent exposure/exhibitionism
- Exposing children to pornographic material
- Deliberately exposing a child to the act of sexual intercourse
- Masturbation in front of a child
Touching sexual offenses include:...// Read more: link

3) http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/desi-dilemma-to-get-laid-or-not-to-get-laid/

// In last one week I have been bombarded with question at least 5 times by four different people and then I read this on a message board. "Hi, I have a very loving and caring boy friend. We were in relationship for the past 4 years. I’m from south and he is a northie. Our marriage is fixed to happen after 2 years. As he is in north,i havent met him for the past 1yr 9 months. He is coming to meet me and i’m so excited. Though we have stayed lot of times together, i never allowed for sex. But this time, he is so adament bout sex and he is compelling me. I dun want to have sex before marriage. I said NO, and frm tht time he is upset and he said he ll cancel his tickets. Just to console him, i said yes now. But i really dont want to. How i can tel him NO so that we wont have any fights... " // Read DesiGirl's response to this query here: link
Related posts:


1) Reactions to verdict on the Talwars - Some people think parents can't help but kill their child upon finding her in a compromising position with a servant:


2) Please do find out what UNICEF has to say about the gender bias in Indian parenting and child marriages:

Do some of us believe that parents have the option of killing their child if they find her in a compromising position?

Some of the posts written by an eminent blogger (link, link) following the judgment on the Talwars (link) prompted me to do this post. I am including excerpts from these well-written posts to drive home the point. I honestly have no opinion on who killed Aarushi and I don't intend to comment on whether the CBI court is right or not in convicting Nupur and Rajesh Talwar for Aarushi-Hemaraj's murders. [ The supreme court has already chastised the media for distaste and lack of sensitivity in covering this case (link). ] The blog posts which I came across (link, link) drew my attention to reactions to the conviction from some section of the public. This section of the public believes that if the CBI's speculation is true - that if Aarushi's parents killed her in a fit of rage upon finding their thirteen year old child in a compromising position with their servant - the Talwars shouldn't be held guilty and should be empathized with - because this section of the public sees killing the child and servant as one of the or the only option(s) which the Talwars had as 'Indian parents'.


Let us look at comments from this section of the public which I came across through various sources:

  1. A TOI comment: "It might be in a fit of rage that the parents might have killed her. Rewinding a bit, only one angle is there: the poor little girl who was adolescent that time was lured by the servant when parents where away from home. Parents saw their child in compromising position and killed her in a fit of rage. They hid it fearing shame she brought to the familyFrom an Indian parent point of view, no decent parent will accept it and that too with a servant though murder is not a solution. Just imagine how bad the parent who showered all their love to their child will be disappointed upon seeing this! Pathetic to the core is our justice system: If court can assure proper punishment to such Hemraj and culprits of Delhi and Mumbai cases, that will instill fear for such criminals. Since India law and punishment is very light, it is creating more and more criminals. Lesson for parents: Never ever provide accommodation to male servants in the same house if you have girl child " (link)
  2. Another TOI comment: " I am a girl, grew up in a very liberal family. I & my sister both chose our life partners and our parents approved of that. But we both knew what our limits were and our focus was our education. Our parent’s focus was to earn, provide us what they could and give us good morals. They did their job, we did ours. We are professionals today. We had friends (boys and girls) but we never betrayed our parents. In this case, Aarushi was wrong, taking advantage of her parent’s absence, parents were wrong probably trying to spend most of their time at their clinic and (of course they were doing it for their only child!!), but they forgot, she needed their time more than their money. Where is this society going? Where are our kids going? Why are we not involved in their lives as our parents were? I have a daughter and such incidents really scare me as a mother. Aarushi’s murder can not be justified, but I can also imagine a parent’s rage, anger when he/she saw their barely teenage daughter in a compromised position with a much older man (doesnt matter a domestic help or anyone else). In the end, everyone lost…… but in my opinion, the 13 year old girl is old enough to understand her actions and what can it do!! To avoid any other Aarushis, parents need to start getting more involved in their children’s lives and probably have a better after school arrangements for their children who are under a particular age…… It is a sad day, the whole family is finished…… but we all can learn something from this….. parents and children!!!! " (link)
  3. Another comment which was brought to light by Fem on this blog-post (link): "This a wrong judgment, if the parents have the right give life to child then they have the right to take that life, court or law has no right to convict the parents for killing their child."
  4. A comment on TOI: "Before any comment first of think once if you are in position of talwar than what is your action. you found your 14 year daughter and 45 year old servant in very good innocent condition ?????? reply what is your reaction after scene ?????" (link)

I'm giving excerpts from two well-written posts (linklink) here:

// It seems many believe that the parents could not have reacted in any other way. //

// Are these trolls, pretending to be grateful Indian daughters of parents who ‘gave them freedom’ and who are quick to believe that a thirteen year old ‘betrayed her parents’ trust’ – something they claim, as good Indian daughters, they would never do? 
It seems the Noida police has (with no evidence) convinced many that there can be only one ‘motive’ when a girl child is killed, and it involves a ‘compromising position’. And it is, as always, the victim’s fault. //

// Or do many see the police version as a validation of their suspicions of what ‘westernisation can do to the society’? Or is it that many Indians have placed themselves in the Noida police version of the Talwars’ position and ‘understood’ the murders? //

// I find this mindset difficult to understand – there seems to be no idea in so many minds that a 13 year old is a child and any sex with her by any adult is child abuse and rape. //

What do those comments tell us about Indian parenting? I really want to know: What would you do if you find your adolescent daughter in a compromising position with a servant? Do you see killing or physically abusing her out of rage as an option? Do you see this as your daughter's fault because she shamed your family or do you see this as child sexual abuse perpetrated by your servant? Can any sexual interaction between a child and an adult be seen as anything but child sexual abuse? Or do you consider other factors like how she dressed, whether she agreed to or not, like this judge who blamed a 10 year old for her own rape (link)? Do we as a society at some level see children as property in which parents have invested to uphold the family 'honor'? Isn't our parenting system lacking in helping children cope with puberty and adolescence?



Here's what I think you ought to do: 

1. Fire the servant and register a complaint against him for child sexual abuse.
2. Talk to your daughter openly without intimidating her and understand what she is going through. Help her deal with her puberty phase. Counsel her about the emotional and biological consequences of having sex before reaching certain maturity. A helpful link:
3. Let her know that she can always trust you to support her and that she is most welcome any time to complain about any uncomfortable behavior she is facing from any person, however powerful she thinks that person might be. If she doesn't trust you to complain to you about abuse, how can you ever protect her? Some helpful links:

Related posts:

Help children cope with puberty and adolescence:

November 28, 2013

Baseless, malicious defamation is as big a threat to women empowerment as unauthorized surveillance

There have been so many drafts lingering around but a recent article (link) made me so disgusted that I had to publish this post ASAP. I'm sure by this time around, whole country must be aware of the 'Saheb-Shah tapes' involving a 'snooping scandal' (link) - Given all the mainstream media is covering it in every prime-time show. Now, since the opposition party and the media unanimously stress on behalf of the whole country that this is an issue of the greatest national importance, let's assume that it is so and must be probed into. Please note that my intention here is not to downplay the issue or defend Modi-Shah duo. As a woman and an Indian citizen, I only intend to throw some light on the way the issue is being analyzed by the media and the opposition (or some people associated with the opposition) (link, link).

At first, I thought the issue was about uninformed, illegal, unauthorized surveillance on a woman ordered by Amit Shah. What the father of the woman (link), BJP (link), Congress leaders (link) and Pradeep Sharma (link) had to say do not relate to this. Till now, the woman has maintained a stoic silence about it (link) and Gujarat government hasn't confirmed that the surveillance was authorized through official channels. As the information obtained through such unauthorized surveillance can easily be misused against people under watch, I do understand that this represents certain unaccountable power which the State seems to wield over its people. This, according to me, is a serious issue worth a sincere probe, though I suspect the ugly truth to comprise of many instances of unauthorized surveillance (link) in the functioning of most governments today. By no means do I intend to under-play this as I strongly believe power without accountability is the biggest threat to any country.

To address the concerned issue, we need answers to a few key questions: (1) Was there any surveillance? I believe there was - going by the tapes. (2) Was the surveillance authorized officially? Doesn't look like it - otherwise BJP would've thrown this first line of defense in our faces. (3) If it wasn't authorized officially, why was it conducted? What circumstances necessitated it enough to justify it? As per BJP, it was ordered to protect the woman in question upon her father's request. This claim doesn't seem to be in-line with the content of the tapes which show that even the father was monitored. (4) If the surveillance was done for protection, did the people know that they were being monitored? There's no clear answer on this front as the woman in question has remained silent and hasn't come out in support of her father's claims. Now, from the face of it, Amit Shah is guilty of ordering an unauthorized surveillance (presumably in conjunction with his Saheb, Mr. Modi) probably with the intent to cause mischief if the woman was monitored without her knowledge. We might also be concerned about any pressure which might have been exerted on the woman to control her, causing her to be silent now. Simple common sense tells me that this is what any investigation around this issue should be centered about and this ought to be the focus of any related media-stories.

At this juncture, I must come to the point of my disgust - because the media seems to be coming up with 'intellectual' points whose relevance is beyond the comprehension of mere mortals like me. Let's take a look at what has been unearthed out of Gulail's 'investigation' (link):

"Chief Minister Narendra Modi engaged in a conversation with ‘Madhuri’ Soni even as the then Kachchh Collector Pradeep Sharma and Modi’s security personnel look on." (link)

WTF?!! CM talking to woman (in 'intellectual' words, that's 'engaging in a conversation') is news now? At this rate, I'm really worried for the future of all women employed in any government offices or government related assignments in India.


//According to Sharma Madhuri was also present in one of the tents on the night Modi was there.// (link)

Come on dude - say it - whatever it is that you want to say under the name of 'investigative journalism'!! What are you implying and how is it relevant to the concerns around unauthorized surveillance? Look at the way the sentence was framed: "Madhuri was also present in one of the tents on the night Modi was there" - Almost sounds like 'Madhuri slept with Modi in a tent' no? Re-read it again carefully now and you'll see what a gross distortion of facts it is. Mr. Ashish Khetan or whoever wrote that 'investigative article', let me tell you what this is - Irresponsible, reckless journalism with a malicious intent to defame the woman accompanied by a serious intrusion of privacy - that's what it is!! If women have to run the risk of being defamed like this for merely talking to any politician or a top-shot official, it's a serious threat to our society.


There are more pearls of wisdom from the suspended officer Pradeep Sharma, whose lawyer was claiming a few days ago that Sharma was framed by Modi because Modi suspected Sharma to possess a controversial CD (link). Sharma now claims that he was targeted because he was aware of the 'relationship' between Modi and the woman who was monitored (link). He also claims to hold the woman guilty of receiving SMSes from Modi among other things (link). Now, I'm confused between Sharma's lawyer's version and Sharma's own version - unless the 'controversial CD' being referred to was a sex tape, in which case Mr. Sharma should be prosecuted first for possessing it in the first place. Before this whole issue gets any dirtier, I would like to quickly point out a few important facts to Mr. Pradeep Sharma (and the media which is covering his stories):

  • We as the citizens of the country believe in our right to privacy and have no interest whatsoever as to whether or not there was any relationship between Modi and this woman and any details about the nature of any such relationship.
  • We are bored to death with your interviews posing to reveal 'sensational information' about SMSes of the nature 'Chai piya?'. If you even remotely think that any person asking 'Chai piya?' to any other person is an issue of national importance, we assure you most solemnly that it is not.
  • Everyone who votes in India is an adult citizen most of whom have no problem whatsoever with any kind of consensual relationship between two adult citizens, even if one of those two is a prime ministerial candidate. We have enough faith in our prime ministerial candidate to be cognizant of this fact and hence hold your unproved claims that you were framed for merely knowing about any of his relationships to be completely false and malicious.
  • As responsible citizens, we strongly condemn your malicious act of defaming this innocent woman without any proof whatsoever. In fact, we demand that Mr. Pradeep Sharma be prosecuted for defamation immediately.
Oh God this is so disgusting. I'm tempted to say that women having to risk such outrageous defamation involving adultery for merely talking to any politician is a greater threat to women empowerment in the country than any unauthorized surveillance by the State. But I can't make myself say it - both are equally threatening. Don't you think we need to answer this immediately?