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Abusive Childhood: Tainted Adulthood

The hallmark of culture and advance of civilization consists in the fulfilment of our obligation to the young generation by opening up all opportunities for every child to unfold its personality and rise to its full stature, physical, mental, moral and spiritual. It is the birth right of every child that cries for justice from the world as a whole.

V.R. Krishna Iyer J. in Mamta Rao, Law Relating to Women and Children 529 (3rd Ed.2013).

INTRODUCTION:

Issues like Child Labour and Sexual Abuse in Children have gained a lot of attention and importance in the recent years and considerable amount of awareness has been created and propagated throughout the country. While these are serious issues, there are a few other serious acts of  injustice committed against children and since the whole society follows a similar pattern with issues like this, the Law has turned its back. If at all this sort of abuse committed by parents is being filed as a case in the court of law, in my opinion, the case may get dismissed saying that’s how things work in India and is another sort of custom, tradition and values we Indians hold. In that case, Sati, an evil practice followed in India in the name of customs and antiquity was abolished when people came to their senses. I hope the issue that’s going to be discussed is viewed with a better perspective at least by our generation and future generations to come.

In a country like India, without any reference to statistics or sources, any general man can say that up to 95%, minimum, children are being abused by their own parents in the name of righteousness and proper upbringing. Children are being tamed like circus animals to run an illusory race in the society. Parents in order to get some sort of recognition for themselves and their children in this unbelievably judgemental society, force their kid to excel at anything and everything. 

When this is something very common that happens in almost every household in India, physically abusing a little child for just not listening to their parents with a playful mind is beyond cruel. A video that went viral in all social media platforms a couple of days ago, a child was tortured by pouring hot wax on his body when all he wanted was to play outside despite being stung by a bee. This gruesome act was committed by the maternal grandmother and aunt of the child, when it is unanimously being believed that grandparents are the ones who spoil the child showing too much love and affection, now I fear that’s not the situation anymore and feel skeptical. Previously, the parents of a child had to protect the child only from outsiders and strangers, now that they have to protect them from their own family members is simply gut wrenching and saddening. If you are not ready to take care of another human, responsible for another living being, then simply don’t have any.

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When this is the scenario existing, what happens if a child is being abused by his/her parents? Ranting them out has only put that child in a more dangerous position and exposed to more physical and mental abuse. Parents simply justify that they are right by pointing their finger at their parents, who apparently have treated them even worse, but that doesn’t mean that they can do it to their own children too. Maatha (Mother), Pitha (Father), Guru (Teacher), Deivam (The Almighty) is what we Indians preach and follow. A teacher of mine once told my mother, “you have two daughters, so do whatever you want to them, do it all by yourself; torture till they break, numb their senses so that they won’t find fault with anything and everything at their in-laws house and lead a happy life when they get married”. Even though this is an offensive and wrong statement, she thinks she needs to prepare her children for the best and worse case scenarios the world is going to offer when they are no longer under their supervision and protection. But can this justify the physical and mental abuse tolerated by that child or any child for that matter?

TYPES OF CHILD ABUSE:

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Emotional abuse:

Abusing a child emotionally is when contradicting to whatever they say, using harsh language, threatening them constantly and not extending them the warm courtesy and gesture which any decent human would.

Physical abuse :

Physical abuse is when the child has been experiencing torture externally. Hitting the child, like discussed above torturing a toddler by pouring hot wax on him, hitting the child with belt and so many other forms.

Neglect:

Whenever a child does something, he/she is proud of, the child will immediately look up to his parents to get some sort of recognition and appreciation, which in turn will boost the child in real and psychologically too. Constant belittlement, comparing the child with some other child saying he has better caliber than him, neglecting the little achievements of this child, all this might look too normal for any parent, but the way the child gets hurt, affects him psychologically.

Sexual abuse:

Sexual abuse in children also known as child molestation is when any child (a minor) being exploited by an older person for sexual stimulation.  Child sexual abuse, according to P.D. Mathews is: “Child sexual abuse includes implying, using, inducing or coercing, any child to engage in illicit sexual conduct, it also includes the use of children in assisting with other persons to engage in explicit sex.”[1]

The problem of child abuse revolves around the complexities of conceptualisation and reporting of the problem, since the abuser is someone close to the victim. To quote from the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 1992[2]:

That our heads bow in shame when it is learnt that a girl (child) has been raped (sexually abused) by a close relative of her own. She becomes the victim of her own trust on the relative (Saviour).”

TAINTED ADULTHOOD:

Human brain attains its maximum growth as a child. When the child has gone through all the above said forms of abuse, it’s not contributing towards something that is healthy and productive. Studies confirm that people who were prone to more abuse and domestic violence as a child have a very low self-esteem and confidence. These kids when they grow up, they start getting trust issues and can never commit themselves to a promising relationship. Lack of self-confidence, they start feeling worthless and end up settling for a menial job without knowing what they are capable of for their entire life. They also experience stress, anxiety, panic attacks, depression at high rates compared to a child who grew up in a peaceful household.

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CONCLUSION:

Parents, if they feel they are not responsible enough to parent another human being, please wait till you do. If anyone finds any child in distress, please make sure they’re safe and call the CHILD HELPLINE: 1098 and hand over the child to a social services volunteer. In India we only have laws to protect children from strangers but not from their own parents, this is the need of the hour and hope the Government does the needful.


[1] “Sexual Abuses of the Children and the Law”, 1996 Legal News and Views.

[2] MAMTA RAO, LAW RELATING TO WOMEN AND CHILDREN 591 (3rd ed.2013).


Cite this article (The Bluebook 20th ed.)-

Gharishma Bashyam, Abusive Childhood: Tainted Adulthood, Ex Gratia Law Journal, (November 20, 2020), https://exgratialawjournal.in/blawg/children-and-law/abusive-childhood-tainted-adulthood-by-gharishma-bashyam/.

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Author

Gharishma Bashyam
Student - School of Excellence in Law, The Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University.