Girls suffer sexual abuse in silence

Many women face sexual and mental stress most of the time while fears of rape and sexual abuse haunt them

Hyderabad: “I was just an eight-year-old girl when I was first harassed by boys from my class, who kept lifting up my skirt as a ‘fun game.’ When I reported the issue to the class teacher, the boys were taken to the principal, but I was asked to keep my mouth shut. I was so scared that I didn’t even tell my parents about this,” said Tamanna Sharma, who currently works in an MNC.

Talking about the mental stress and abuse she has been facing since her childhood, Tamanna said that several women have told her that they too were harassed at an early age. They did not know how to deal with the situation after being asked to keep mum. There is not even a single woman, who has not been abused or harassed, she said.

“Why do women have to wait for something to happen and then call for help? Why do we not feel safe, when alone in our own house?” she wanted to know.
“I was forced into silence again when I was 12 years old and I was walking home from the bus stop with three other girls, when suddenly a man came and touched all of us inappropriately in broad day-light. When I turned to my friend, who was older than me, she asked me to shut my mouth and not describe this incident to anyone, not even to my parents,” she said.

Breaking down while narrating her worst encounter with an abuser, she said that when she was 14 years old, a man kept following her. She noticed it but felt safe once she entered her building. As soon as she climbed a floor, the same man approached her from the second floor and fell on her, pressing all her private areas. Devastated, she shouted for help, but none came forward. The man tried to approach her again but luckily she managed to run away. As soon as she got home, she told her mom about the incident. The mother immediately tried to find the man, but failed. What hurt Tamanna most was that the next day her neighbours started making fun of her.

Many women, including Tamanna, face sexual and mental stress most of the time while fears of rape and sexual abuse haunt them.

This newspaper spoke to several girls and women, who said lewd comments are made when they step out of their houses, being stared at or stalked by friends of their uncles, being body-shamed at work, getting abusive and pathetic calls from strangers who ask them to have sex with them, being threatened about suicide and acid attacks if they refuse to be their girlfriend, sleep with him or marry him.
Living in constant fear, waiting for something to happen and then call for help and normalizing such abuses unless raped must stop, added the women.

“What about those women who do not even have mobile phones to dial a helpline number? Why aren’t lady police personnel on patrol duty?”, she wondered.

Repeated attempts to contact Swati Lakra, additional DGP, women safety, went in vain as she was not available for her comments.

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