January 17, the newspaper headline reads – Jilted girl in Bengaluru throws acid on boyfriend, slashes face with a knife, the thoughts storms my head asking a natural question. Is it only girls who are abused, who fall for domestic violence and vulnerable to sexual predators. Much hullabaloo on the debate what a girl should wear or what should not, but has anyone addressed the plight of male abuse meanwhile? When we discuss domestic violence, physical and emotional torture it is usually presumed that the victims are women. And the statistics are truly traumatic. The less-told story is that a striking number of men are victims, too, suffering physical, mental and sexual abuse. Anybody can be affected by domestic abuse, and anyone can be an abuser. About two in five of all victims of domestic violence are men, contradicting the widespread impression that it is almost always women who are left battered and bruised, a new report claims. But does society really cares to address the problem of abuse against males? Ridiculed with this situational sympathy, perception driven humanity, I headed to my office and found a ‘Wake Up Call’ from my acquaintance Mehak Mirza Prabhu in my mailbox that sent shivers down my spine. Here it goes:
“He sounded unsure, excited, scared, all at the same time. Hassan lay with his chest pinned to the ground. Kamal and Wali each gripped an arm, twisted and bent at the elbow so that Hassan’s hands were pressed to his back. Assef was standing over them, the heel of his snow boots crushing the back of Hassan’s neck.
Assef knelt behind Hassan, put his hands on Hassan’s hips and lifted his bare buttocks. He kept one hand on Hassan’s back and undid his own belt buckle with his free hand. He unzipped his jeans. Dropped his underwear. He positioned himself behind Hassan. Hassan didn’t struggle. Didn’t even whimper. He moved his head slightly and I caught a glimpse of his face. Saw the resignation in it. It was a look I had seen before. It was the look of the lamb”
-Excerpt from THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini
Wake Up Call – Save The Boy Child
Milk: Handled with the care of handling a baby. Boiled for the right amount of time, at right intervals, kept in fridge all the time, with lid covering the vessel so as to avoid any splashes of unwanted liquid spoiling it. It’s white, pure, delicate and visibly demands to be taken care of. To add to that, as if it’s appearance and naturally low immunity is not enough, split milk or spilled milk is considered bad omen. So you dare not treat it lightly.
Coconut: Tough nut to crack. Toss it in any corner, it sits like a rock. It is given the status of an idol at times, but in a place where idols are forgotten after immersions who cares for a coconut after the Pooja. It toughens from the outside over time. Ages gracefully from its innocent green to rugged brown, but not necessarily gratefully. We can’t see that the soft layer inside it toughens as well, we can’t see the water in it drying up. Coconut hardens by nature or is it because it has no choice. It is born with a structure that makes it difficult for us to reach within it. It receives completely neglected care because nature has made it strong enough to take care of itself. But it painfully shatters when you try to explore what lies within.
Boy: Few days ago, as I sat at my friend’s place enjoying evening chai, she said, in a voice laced with genuine worry, “Times are so bad! I am sure you can’t let your daughter go alone anywhere. Right?”, “So very right! By the way where is your younger son Shweta?” I promptly asked with equal concern. “Oh! He has gone down to play and maybe is at some friend’s place or must be in the play area. Complex is safe, no cars inside. That’s the beauty of having son, no stress at all”
Now, here is what struck me hard. My daughter is 11 years old. I have spoken a lot to her over years about good touch – bad touch, good eye – bad eye, good talk – bad talk etc. She surely will raise a loud alarm if some stranger even looks at her for few seconds more than necessary. But Shweta’s son is just 5 years old, yet she was more concerned about my daughter.
Our little girls need to be preserved from the bad, like milk, as in their cute dresses and pigtails, delicate and naïve, they seem easy targets for abuse. Whereas our little boys, are treated as coconuts.
We have always heard “when he has a daughter he will understand”, we don’t get to hear “when she has a son she will understand”?
“I have not raised my hand over her ever!” I had said. “Yes daughters are best, but with sons ek do lagaye bina chalti hi nahi” kartik’s mom said.
In general it feels like taking care of a girl child is more complicated and involving task, whereas with boy child, all you need to do is control his mischief.
From quiet young age we give our sons clear indication that they are on their own outside the house and they have to be strong in the house and also that girls will be protected throughout. On growing up, as per recent fashion, women try to defy and alter their needs, but men have to continue in the same mould. Would they be feeling off balance I wonder!
Well sticking to the point, it is proven fact that boys have been easier victims of molestation by older boys, drivers, servants and relatives, since ages. Yet how many stories and articles and cases do we hear about young boys being raped?
It is proven fact that with regards to sexual awareness, a boy’s mind develops slower than a girl’s. So that means we need to put more efforts to affectively make him understand about things that he may not otherwise realize as important to speak up about.
These boys grow up to be men, men who stove away the dark memories of their childhood traumas, who live embarrassed about it, who somehow blame themselves for it. Woman have started talking openly about the incidences of rapes they suffered in childhood but don’t you realise and find it disturbing that men do not? Our society not ready for ‘HIS’ stories as yet. Give ‘Rape’ as a topic in any writing contest and not one entry refers to male rapes, NOT ONE! It’s disturbing! I am no expert but I would plead all those who cover specialized topics of woman’s psychology, to take a step forward and make us read and understand our boys as well.
Let’s make boys feel safe and protected and open to seek emotional and physical care. Let’s make men feel that letting out these memories, talking about it openly will not make them appear weak, there is no reason to feel ashamed of it, and they were not responsible for it. It was not their failure but their parent’s failure who could not protect them and who did not treat son and daughter equally.
Whenever we speak of inequality it’s generally implied as fovouring the male, but this is grave inequality where a girl child is given more care than a boy child.
It must be painful to be a little boy going silently through such forced torture without confiding into anyone and then being forced to grow up into a strong, not overly sensitive or emotional, manly man.
Tonight I insist, speak to your man about his childhood traumas and see the hard exterior collapse into your arms. It’s still a topic under covers, in fact under heavy dark rough blankets. Lift them up for him. He may not be as strong as you expect or accept him to be, but tell him it’s no factor to judge him for.
Please save him from suffocating in the dark memories.
Or else, when you will have a son you will understand.
Appeal #SaveTheBoyChild – Join Hands For A Cause
For Boys/Men – PLEASE drop in a message to join a PRIVATE GROUP specially initiated for the victims, to anonymously drop off their burdens, until this society makes them feel comfortable to share openly. Email your requests to join the group along with your story in less than 600 words on [email protected]
For women – Any offending statement is unintentional. It’s for a good cause. Let’s work towards ending this inequality
Author Mehak Mirza Prabhu, is a 34 year old mother, storyteller, writer, entrepreneur, and lives in Mumbai. Passionate about creating and narrating stories in various languages. Consciously trying to bring people face to face with reality, not through statistics and reports, but through fiction laced reality based stories that all can relate to, and thus can feel others’ pain. Social reform enthusiast, blogger at Half Baked Beans, Storyteller at Storytel (Sweden), featured in The Logical Indian page and promotional head and writer on Scribbled Feel; is looking forward to more challenges that life can bring to her, to make her pen mightier.
Also read: How women are their own worst enemies