On July 16th, an 18-year-old student from Christ University consumed poison, alleging sexual harassment from her NCC instructor. The girl is out of danger now. Though the teacher was taken into custody, there are no further reports on whether he is still in custody or if he was let off. The college authorities, not surprisingly, sided with the teacher. I haven’t been able to confirm if the student has resumed her studies in the same college or if she has moved out. One report says that the father withdrew the case because he “realised that she is a female child this will leave a permanent mark on her life” (sic)
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Now, here’s what I don’t get from that statement. All the news paper reports refer to the NCC instructor; his name is pretty much out there. The girls’ name for once, isn’t. Although her family and friends will know, they should ideally be on her side. So as I see it, the man should be the one worried about the ‘mark.’ Then why is reporting the man who pushed her to the brink of suicide a permanent mark in her life?
If they mean the mental trauma, then counseling and the love and care of her family should help her through. But that is not what the father meant here, did he? I don’t mean to single out this particular father. He just did what thousands of fathers before him did and thousands after will probably continue to do. Both mothers and fathers.
Every time there is an incident of sexual harassment, molestation or rape, the family is hesitant to file a complaint. It is not just because of police apathy, of which there is plenty, but because of this fear of this invisible ‘mark.’
Don’t let your child down
Just for a moment, can we stop and think what this concern to protect her from this ‘mark’ will do to her? She is going to feel the shame that is wrongly placed on her. Even though she has been told you are looking out for her, she will feel betrayed. She is going to carry that very mark on her all her life and cower. She will become extremely wary of telling you, the next time she is harassed, which she will be. Because, you see, no one gets punished for harassing women.
The guy who stares, the guy who ‘accidentally’ grazes her breasts, her bottoms, the guy who asks for a massage, the guy who offers a massage – none of them carry any ‘mark.’ While she will carry that very ‘mark’ that you were trying to protect her from and probably pass it on to her friends, siblings and one day to her own child.
Today, lot more of these cases are reported than ever before. The growing numbers while alarming, also mean that more and more people are refusing to be cowed down. The more people talk about it, the more opportunities we have to address the issue.
It is not the easiest thing to do in the world, but stand up for your daughter. Don’t hide her in ill-fitting clothes, burqas or dupattas. Don’t tell her to hide in the dark. Don’t tell her to be quiet.
You should not be worried about what the world has to say.
You are her parent; You just need to be there by her side.