The tendency to center our sexual abuse discourse on the male perpetrator-female survivor prototype is a threat to the well-being of those who don’t fall into this category, finds Roshni Nair
‘Boy can’t be sexually abused: Cops’, screamed the headline of a Bangalore tabloid in late October. This was a statement allegedly made by the Mysore police when a distressed father filed a complaint about his four-year-old son being sexually abused. The instance highlighted the addition of yet another spoke in the wheel of archaic thought — a spoke representing the belief that only females can get sexually abused.
A 2007 study of 2,211 children across 13 states by the Ministry of Women and Child Development revealed that 53.22 per cent children reported being sexually abused. Of these, 53 per cent were boys and 47 per cent were girls. An environment propagating the assumption that males can’t be abused does further harm to those who’ve not only been subjected to molestation or sodomy, but also what Radhika Sharma calls ‘non-contact abuse’.
Sharma manages the Healing Unit of Arpan, a Mumbai-based NGO dedicated to helping survivors of child sexual abuse. Around 37-38 per cent of their work, she says, has been with male survivors.