"Child Molestation."

What comes to your mind when you hear these words?

Shock? Disgust? Sadness...?But if you're a victim, a whole host of other words come to mind.Shame. Pain. Guilt. Hatred... And victims there are many. According to a report by UNICEF, almost 53% of children in India face sexual abuse of some kind at least once in their lives. That means almost 1 in 2 Indians have been molested or worse, raped as children. Wrap your mind around that. The most disgusting thing about child sex abuse is that in most cases, the perpetrator is known to the victim. And the most horrifying fact about it is that most perpetrators have no set gender, age or criminal history. Anyone could be a monster. We wanted to show just how prevalent this heinous crime is in our country. So, we reached out to friends and acquaintances across India and asked them to anonymously share their own stories. And share they did. We received dozens of horrifying accounts of child sexual abuse from many scarred adults. We are sharing some of them with you. Their stories will leave you in a cold sweat.

1.

Source: Source

I was five-years-old and had gone to my bua’s (aunt) place. They had a permanent servant with whom I would often play with as a kid. He was pretty old. One day, he asked me if I wanted to go to a nearby stable. Being an over-excited kid and a lover of animals, I jumped at the opportunity and instantly said yes. When we reached the stable, he took me inside and felt me up. As a young kid, I had no idea what was happening. I couldn’t even cry.

Now that I think of the incident, it disgusts me to the core. He was so old and I was probably his granddaughter’s age. The incident left a permanent fear in my mind and ever since, I have been afraid going to my aunt’s place. I even started staying away from my aunt’s sons fearing that they would do the same to me.

2.

Source: Source

These days brushing keeps happening. We women have got used to it. But this one incident was more than just brushing. I was around 17 and had just come back from school. I was in Class 11.

I had almost reached home when a stranger came up to me and said something. Sensing that his intentions were bad, I ignored him and quickened my footsteps. He followed me and said, “ Chut degi .” (Will you fuck me?) Terrified, I ran upstairs to my place. He followed and quickly grabbed me from my back. I shouted at the top of my voice, after which he ran. I thought of teaching him a lesson and ran after him, but he had gone. I was left in pieces.

3.

Source: Source

I was 9-years-old. We had gone to my father’s best friend’s place, whom we fondly called tau (uncle). One of his cousin’s had come home from a village. We called him chachu . I was getting ready to sleep, along with two of my other cousins. Chachu came to our room and said he had no place to sleep and lay beside me. Minutes after lying down, he slid one of his hands inside my T-shirt.

As if that wasn’t enough, he then moved it down towards my underwear. I got up from the bed and saw him masturbating. Of course, I had no clue what he was doing back then. I went to a corner of the room and started playing with toys. He followed me and said we both could also play games if I wanted to. When I refused, he said if I decided to tell this to my parents, they would beat me and marry me off. “I am an elder and your relative. Nothing will happen to me,” I still remember him saying.

4.

Source: Source

We were visiting some old family friends for dinner. My brother and I were really excited when we went to his room and found out that he had a video game console. We wanted to play but he had other things on his mind. He took us out for walk to an abandoned building nearby, took us up the steps and started talking about incredibly depraved sexual acts. We were really small and had no clue what he was talking about, so all we did was laugh. We got back home and he took us to his room, to “play video games.” There, he stripped and molested us. No one ever found out.

I am now a 28 year old man. And my blood boils in shame and horror whenever I think about what happened to me. All I can do now is pray that it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

5.

Source: Source

It was 2007. I was 17-years-old and had just passed out of school. I had braces for a year for which I had to frequently visit a dentist whose clinic was in a small town. That doctor, who would be around 40-years-old, always looked for a chance to touch and get close to me. One day, I went to his clinic in the evening with my uncle. There was no one there except him. My uncle received a call and had to go to pick his nephew from the bus stand. This left me alone with the dentist.

As he was tightening my braces, his arms pressed my breasts and I was unable to move. After he was done tightening them, I got up from that slanting chair and I was sweating badly out of fear. He took one of his machines, a dental suction tool used to dry up the mouth, and tried to dry my sweating back saying 'pasina aa raha hai' . I said faintly 'nai nai' . I was very scared. I didn't have a phone and couldn't call anyone. Luckily, just then, his wife arrived with their 3 children. I was so relieved to have them there and was surprised to see his behaviour change post their arrival.

6.

Source: Source

My sister was around 7-years-old when this happened. However, she shared it with me only recently, when I was in college. She had gone to our maasi’s (aunt) place where her son, our first cousin, molested her. He took her to the wash-room and tried to feel her up and down. This happened whenever she went there. She kept mum, because it was our very own brother!

7.

Source: Source

I was 10-years-old and was busy playing near my house when a courier guy asked me for a nearby address. I told him the way, but he asked me to come and show it to him. As I went into a narrow corridor, he came closer and slid his hand in my panties. I just ran to save my life. I have never trusted strangers since.

8.

Source: Source

When I joined college, my parents got me admitted to a Hostel. I didn’t have many other guys my age there. Most of the people there were my seniors. I had mentally prepared myself for ragging. I knew it would happen. And it did. It was strange, harrowing and humiliating. I was asked to strip and perform silly acts dozens of times. But there is one incident I just cannot forget. At the end of my “initiation,” they asked me and another junior to strip. I was then asked to sit, facing his genitals and not move or turn my head away. I couldn’t understand how this was ragging. I was disgusted, but I got through it. A year later, when my juniors came, my seniors asked me to join in the “fun.” I asked those perverts to fuck off.

9.

Source: Source

We were kids. She was two years elder to me and ‘Sexy ghar ghar’ was her favourite game. She always became the husband and made me the wife. She would often kiss me while playing. I felt uncomfortable, but she was also a girl, so I ignored the awkwardness.

Once, she asked me to wear a skirt and dress up. I remember I wore a blue skirt and a blue top with yellow flowers. She tried to kiss me on the lips. I was just confused as to what was happening. I never told anyone about this until this day.

10.

Source: Source

I was 17-years-old. I went to a homoeopathic doctor with my Mom as I was unwell. He had to do a check-up, so I was asked to come to the corner of the room where a small bed was kept. I lied down and he started moving the stethoscope around my breasts. Within seconds, he slid his hand inside my shirt. Shocked, I shouted, “What the hell are you doing?” This alerted my Mom sitting in the room and she quickly came up to me. We ran out of that place.

11.

Source: Source

I was a student of Class 6 and used to sit with a boy because that’s how it went in our school - one boy and one girl were made to sit together. We were in the middle of a science lecture when the guy sitting next to me put his hand on my knees. I looked at him from the corner of my eye and he was looking at the blackboard. Just when I thought it was a mistake, his hand moved upwards towards my thigh. He lifted my skirt and felt my thigh. I was stunned. I stayed away from him throughout the rest of our school years. Just recently, the bastard had the gall to send me a friend request on Facebook. I blocked him for good.

12.

Source: Source

I was a teenager. Small enough to not know what molestation was, and big enough to have breasts. I was at home with my mother when one of my grandfather’s friend came over. He was a good friend of his and often paid us a visit. My mom went to the neighbour’s place for a few minutes. He realized I was alone and came close to hug me. This was not one of your regular hugs. He kept standing holding my waist and squeezed me. That was the most awkward I have ever felt in my life. I used to hide whenever he came home after that.

13.

Source: Source

When we were kids, no-one really taught us what a good touch or a bad touch meant. Our parents probably presumed that we were always in safe hands, which is far from true. I remember this one incident when I was 12 and was at a crowded market where people did not even have enough space to walk without elbowing someone. I was sitting on a rickshaw when a filthy middle-aged man with grey hair felt my thigh. My outfit was as ‘appropriate’ as it gets. I was fully covered. I was not courageous enough to speak out. Today, I wish I did. It left a deep impact on the mind of a 12-year-old.

14.

Source: Source

One of my friends went to Bangalore to visit another friend. One late afternoon, she was sexually molested by a neighbour who grabbed her boobs. It was very evident that it was intentional.  When she started shouting, people in the neighbourhood came out and started thrashing him. The molester was constantly asking for forgiveness. My friend being a soft-hearted person, forgave him. Maybe forgiveness was her way of dealing with this traumatic experience. She feels it has not impacted her. But judging by the shadow on her face when she was telling me this, I think it has.

This has to stop!

Whether they prey on a boy or a girl, the people who use children as their play things for their own depraved ends, are nothing short of monsters and should be punished. In 2012, the Indian Parliament passed the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) to protect children from any type of harassment. But punishment isn’t enough. What is required is constant vigilance and care.

Let’s keep our children safe. Because there are some wounds that even time cannot heal.