Peers and doctors demand a change in the societal mindset where a girl subjected to sexual harassment is forced to live with a tainted image while it actually should be the other way round
“When I was in class VIII my science teacher who was also the vice principal called me to his room and kissed me. He was advancing towards me with endearing remarks when I managed to flee. I was terrified and was in a shock for several years,” recalls Nihara.
“Years later when I confided about the incident to my friends, I realised that they too had undergone the same trauma,” she says. But they now regret that they stayed mum back then. “Had we complained at the time, we could have probably several others from the harrowing experience.”
Instances of sexual harassment in educational institutions involving girls are seeing an alarming rise in the city. Two incidents, for instance, had been reported in less than 48 hours a week ago.
Every day several such incidents take place. Culprits have no sense of fear and hence they dare to do such acts. There should be two forms of punishment, one, what the court sentences, and the other, the social stigma. It is not the molested but the molester who should get the stigma, parents say.
“Ironically, it’s the other way round in our society. It’s the victim who is victimised and not the culprit. From family to media everybody questions the victim and this makes them uncomfortable. This needs to change only then will the stigma attached to such incidents eliminate,” says Dr Sunitha Krishnan chief functionary, Prajwala.
“It is not like only girls are sexually harassed. Boys too suffer but they are far more shy to admit it than girls,” remarked a retired teacher.
Till date 18 cases of molestation were registered across the State during this academic year. Ranga Reddy district tops the list with seven molestation cases, followed by four in Nellore and three cases in Hyderabad. “These are incidents which came to light as a case has been registered with the police. In several instances the parents don’t even approach the police fearing the reputation of the girl. We strongly condemn the series of incidents of physical and sexual abuse of the children by their teachers in private schools of twin cities,” said Andhra Pradesh Bala Hakula Sangam president Achyuta Rao.
Dr Kalyan Chakravarty, a child psychiatrist adds, “Since the last two years I have seen an increase in such cases. And I have seen patients have post traumatic syndrome for more than 10 to 15 years. These paedophiles do this because of lack of sympathy and guilt. They mainly target girls as they know that they won’t have to face any consequences. The child is not in a position to understand what is happening to them.”
Symptoms to look out for
- Parents should watch out for behavioural changes in their kids who faced sexual harassment in schools.
- There is a sudden change in behaviour and attitude.
- Such kids are in a dilemma about whether or not to confide in their parents. Parents should check for these signs.
- Child becomes withdrawn. He/she won’t socialise and stays isolated.
- Have disturbed sleep and sweat while asleep.
- They seem pre-occupied,e ven while watching TV or eating.
- Irritability and tantrums.
What to do when such incidents take place.
- Do not panic or fear and act emotionally.
- Observe the child and let them speak out everything. Give them the time and space to pour their hearts out, this is called venting out phenomena.
- Parents should ask open ended questions and not close ended. Give them the space to speak out than answering in yes or no.
- Questions on this description and characteristic should be asked after 48 hours.
- Contact a professional to avoid post traumatic syndrome.
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