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Child abuse is not just bruises or broken bones. It is much more than that. While physical abuse is shocking due to the scars it leaves, not all child abuse is as obvious. Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations, or making a child feel worthless or stupid are also child abuse. Regardless of the type of child abuse, the result is serious emotional harm.

Myths and facts about child abuse and neglect

MYTH #1: It\'s only abuse if it\'s violent.

Fact: Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Neglect and emotional abuse can be just as damaging, and since they are more subtle, others are less likely to intervene.

MYTH #2: Only bad people abuse their children.

Fact: While it\'s easy to say that only \"bad people\" abuse their children, it\'s not always so black and white. Not all abusers are intentionally harming their children. Many have been victims of abuse themselves, and don’t know any other way to parent. Others may be struggling with mental health issues or a substance abuse problem.

MYTH #3: Child abuse doesn\'t happen in “good” families.

Fact: Child abuse doesn\'t only happen in poor families or bad neighborhoods. It crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families who seem to have it all from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed doors.

MYTH #4: Most child abusers are strangers.

Fact: While abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are family members or others close to the family.

MYTH #5: Abused children always grow up to be abusers.

Fact: It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. On the other hand, many adult survivors of child abuse have a strong motivation to protect their children against what they went through and become excellent parents.

 

Effects of child abuse and neglect

All types of child abuse and neglect leave lasting scars. Some of these scars might be physical, but emotional scarring has long lasting effects throughout life, damaging a child’s sense of self, ability to have healthy relationships, and ability to function at home, at work and at school. Some effects include:

  • Lack of trust and relationship difficulties. If you can’t trust your parents, who can you trust? Abuse by a primary caregiver damages the most fundamental relationship as a child—that you will safely, reliably get your physical and emotional needs met by the person who is responsible for your care. Without this base, it is very difficult to learn to trust people or know who is trustworthy. This can lead to difficulty maintaining relationships due to fear of being controlled or abused. It can also lead to unhealthy relationships because the adult doesn’t know what a good relationship is.
  • Core feelings of being “worthless” or “damaged.” If you’ve been told over and over again as a child that you are stupid or no good, it is very difficult to overcome these core feelings. You may experience them as reality. Adults may not strive for more education, or settle for a job that may not pay enough, because they don’t believe they can do it or are worth more.Sexual abuse survivors, with the stigma and shame surrounding the abuse, often especially struggle with a feeling of being damaged.
  • Trouble regulating emotions. Abused children cannot express emotions safely. As a result, the emotions get stuffed down, coming out in unexpected ways. Adult survivors of child abuse can struggle with unexplained anxiety, depression, or anger. They may turn to alcohol or drugs to numb out the painful feelings.

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Have you ever come across a child whom you suspect is the victim of child abuse??

It is VERY VERY IMPORTANT to come out of shell and provide help to the abused child. The least we can do is to report is to concerned authorities. Most of us are reluctant to get involved in other people\'s lives.

Understanding some of the myths behind reporting may help put your mind at ease if you need to report child abuse.

MYTH #1 It is not good to interfere in someone else\'s family


You must understand that the effects of child abuse are lifelong, affecting future relationships, self-esteem, and sadly putting even more children at risk of abuse as the cycle continues. Help break the cycle of child abuse. Do you still think it will be a good idea to stay out of it?

 

MYTH #2 I may end up breaking up someone\'s family


The priority in child protective services is keeping children in the home. A child abuse report does not mean a child is automatically removed from the home - unless the child is clearly in danger. Support such as parenting classes, anger management or other resources may be offered first to parents if safe for the child.

 

MYTH #3 They will come to know it was me who reported


Reporting is anonymous. In most places, you do not have to give your name when you report child abuse. The child abuser cannot find out who made the report of child abuse.

 

MYTH #4 It wont make a difference and better to stay quiet


If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, it is better to be safe than sorry. Even if you don’t see the whole picture, others may have noticed as well, and a pattern can help identify child abuse that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.

 

Where to Report

You may report the matter either to the Police or any NGO

There are lots of NGOs and charitable organizations working for the children. Please go through our website to find out the NGOs (working for children specially child abuse ) with their contact details .

 

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To mark International Women’s Day, Australian-Indian woman RAJASREE VARIYAR explores the changing place of women in rural Indian society

 

 

Madurai is a city famed for its proud and ancient history, its temples and its palaces. Straddling the Vaigai River, set amongst the rolling, lush green hills of Tamil Nadu, it continues to attract devotees and tourists from all over India and indeed the world.

However, in recent decades, Madurai district has also come to be famed for something much more nefarious – its missing girls.

The practice of female infanticide and foeticide in a string of villages in the Madurai district first came to public attention in the mid-1980s, when the Indian, and then the international media shone a stark spotlight on the issue. Stories began to emerge of babies not more than a handful of days old being starved, suffocated or poisoned – little girls born for the grave.

When the issue came to light, the finger of accusation was pointed firmly at the practice of dowry-giving, which exploded in rural Madurai following the building of the Vaigai Dam and the agricultural wealth this created. But even this is a simplistic explanation of why a family would kill their baby girl.

The root cause of female infanticide stems from the powerlessness and lack of voice that too often comes with being born an Indian woman.

Now, both government and non-government groups are working to redefine the status of women in the villages of Madurai district. Grassroots NGOs have sprung up in the region, consisting of dedicated people from local families who have suffered through violence against women and have personal experience with the practice of female infanticide.

Eager to discover what inroads had been made into preventing the killing of baby girls, I – an Australian-Indian woman, the first of two daughters – made a trip to visit one of these NGOs, the Women’s Emancipation and Development (WED) Trust, based in Chellampatti. There I discovered a beehive of activity that has continued since the Trust’s founding in 1992, people working to improve the lives of rural women in more than 60 villages in Madurai district.

“Traditionally, sons have been valued far more than daughters,” says Dharma Neethi, one of the founders of WED Trust. “When more than one daughter is born, immediately she is seen as an economic burden.”

A boy represents the continuation of a family’s lineage. He will receive higher education, earn more for any form of employment and inherit his parents’ assets. It is he who will receive his wife’s dowry into the family. And, importantly, he will perform the Hindu funeral rites that will allow his parents moksha, or enlightenment.

On the other hand, a girl’s destiny is nothing but marriage into another family. In rural India, from the moment a girl is born, her parents must sacrifice, sometimes skipping meals to be able to afford their daughter’s coming-of-age ceremony, her wedding ceremony, and her dowry. These festivities have become signs of social status and family honour – the bigger, the better.

Having one daughter is acceptable. Any more and a family can risk bankruptcy.

Added to this is the oppression that women must face on a daily basis. They are not able to own property, inherit, or pass their names on to their children. Even opening a bank account or receiving a social support card has been almost impossible for a woman. In essence, for centuries, there has been little evidence that women have ever even existed; the only lasting memory of their lives being in the features of the children they bear.

It is this lack of social status that Neethi, together with the co-founder of WED Trust, N. Logamani, is working to change.

 

 

“Once female infanticide was an unavoidable part of life here, there was little shame in it,” Neethi says. “When the media began to report on it, the focus of the government was on prosecuting families who had killed their daughters, but this did not address the real issue. We must work to change the beliefs and the hardships in life that drive people to commit infanticide.”

Although the organisation is small, currently employing just five permanent full-time staff but supported by a raft of volunteers, its activities are far reaching. The Trust’s offices – two clean, well-built structures in Ghandinagar, Chellampati – include a safe house for women who are experiencing problems at home. These problems range from domestic violence, their husbands’ alcoholism, and the threat of divorce and abandonment – problems that often arise because they have failed to provide their husband with a son.

Sutha’s story

On my second day, I was introduced to a young woman named Sutha who had recently been reconciled with her family.

“I’ve been married for seven years,” Sutha told me. She is 24 now, and has three children. Two are with her today, her middle daughter standing shyly by her side and her youngest child, the only boy, sitting on her lap.

“Her husband and mother-in-law were very abusive,” Logamani told me softly.

“Were they angry when you had your daughters?” I asked.

Sutha nods. “When my second daughter was born, my mother-in-law grabbed my hair and threw me out of the house.”

The abuse continued over the years. Her husband openly taunted Sutha with an affair he was having; her mother-in-law beat her regularly.

“I tried to kill myself several times,” Sutha said, matter-of-factly. “I tied a rope around my neck and tried to hang myself.”

Finally, Sutha came to WED Trust, spending several days in the safe house and attending counselling sessions with her husband and family. Logamani runs many of these sessions herself and, coming from the tiny village of Ghandinagar, is able to work within the social context of the villagers.

Sutha’s husband accepted her back into the home, and she gave birth to their third child – a boy.

“Did the counselling sessions work?” I asked her. “Are you happier now?”

“Yes,” Sutha said. “My mother-in-law is nicer to me now, and my husband and I are happy, because of the counselling.” She smiled, a shy, wry smile. “And also because I have a son.”

Sutha’s story reveals yet another facet of women’s vulnerability. If they do not provide the longed-for son, or an acceptable amount of dowry, they can be threatened with divorce or simple abandonment for another woman. With no secure way of earning an income and limited education, such women are at risk of destitution.

WED Trust and other organisations have campaigned long and hard to raise awareness and understanding of what many of us here in Australia take for granted – the inherent human value of being a woman, a girl’s right to life, to education and the freedom to choose her own future. But it is a complex problem requiring a multifaceted, long-term approach.

“We must address this issue from many angles,” Dharma Neethi says. “We must provide a counter for each of the practices and ways of thinking that undermines the status of women.”

How can we address these issues??

 

Raising awareness and improving education

Campaigning against the practice of giving dowry is an obvious step. Currently, a girl’s family is often required to give at least ten sovereigns of gold as dowry. This is often accompanied by white goods, pots and pans, furniture – all items that pass into her husband’s possession and can be readily sold for cash, leaving her with nothing.

“If a dowry must be given, we are trying to encourage families to give their daughters land or property, or set up a bank account in her name. This gives the woman assets that she has control over, providing her with financial freedom that her husband’s family cannot easily take from her.”

Encouraging families to allow their daughters to inherit and pass on the family’s assets and name is another step, and for Dharma Neethi, this starts at home.

“I have two girls,” Neethi tells me. “My daughters are the only ones in their classes with both my and my wife’s initials. They’ll carry both our names and will inherit our farm.”

The WED Trust provides essential supplies of food and clothing for families with additional newborn girls, and uniforms and educational material for girls entering secondary and tertiary education.

“This helps shift the parents’ view that their daughter is a financial strain,” Neethi says.

However, it is education that is key to turning around the deep-rooted beliefs that keep women shackled.

“The views of the older generation are hard to change,” Dharma Neethi admits. “It is the children who are our best chance of improving this situation.”

WED Trust runs approximately 12 free Skill Development Centres in villages every weekday after school. Here, children learn the importance of gender equity and how to balance the roles of men and women in their family through music, dance and art.

These initiatives have had a great impact over the past two decades.

“Female infanticide has been drastically reduced,” Dharma Neethi states. “Awareness of gender equality is spreading in this area.”

Educating their daughters is a cause many mothers have always been passionate about, but have only recently become empowered to support.

Ananda Jothi was pulled out of school at age 13, and, like many women, became a housewife at a young age. She took up tailoring five years ago because her husband refused to pay for her two daughters’ education.

“He didn’t see the need to educate them because they are girls,” Ananda told me. “And all his earnings were spent on alcohol. I wanted my girls educated.”

With a micro-loan from WED Trust and her fierce determination, she now runs a small tailoring business out of a tiny shop in Karumathur. Her eldest daughter Abarna goes to an English-medium school, and the younger, Anusia, to a Tamil-medium school. “I can’t afford to put them both in English-medium schools, and my husband doesn’t support their education at all. But at least they are both still going to school. That I can do.”

Changing society’s perceptions

There is still a long way to go, with signs that the practice of infanticide has not been completely wiped out.

In the village of Mamarathupatti, I meet Athirstalaksmi, who lives with her husband, mother-in-law and three daughters. There is a five-year gap between her eldest daughter and her one-year old twins. Two baby girls were born in between, and neither survived their first few days of life.

“I don’t believe in giving dowry,” Athirstalaksmi’s mother-in-law says. “I have two sisters, and I did not accept dowry for Athirstalaksmi. I am happy with girl-children. But she went home to her mother’s house in Coimbatore to have the children, and they were killed there.” It was Athirstalaksmi’s own family who killed her second and third daughters.

For the birth of the twins, Athirstalaksmi stayed in Mamarathupatti. But days after the girls were born, her maternal aunt arrived – to kill them.

“We had to call the police to stop her from coming into the house,” Athirstalaksmi says, as the twins cling to her sari.

While cases such as these are becoming much rarer, the bias against girls may simply be better hidden. Sex-selective abortions – female foeticide – remain a troubling problem, even though it is illegal throughout India to reveal the gender of an unborn baby.

Logamani took me to visit another family in Chellampatti, not far from WED Trust’s headquarters, where Malathy lives with her husband and three children. The two eldest are girls, aged 13 and eleven. They are bright, well-spoken and sweet. I asked them what subjects they enjoy at school, and they rush to show me their trophies for sport and dance, certificates for first place in Mathematics and English.

Malathy agrees that education is key for her daughters’ future, and is adamant that she will support them.

There is a third child, Logamani tells me, and Malathy slips into her small home’s second room to proudly bring out her sleeping son. The little boy is just over two years old. I remark on the significant age gap between the children, and receive an embarrassed smile in reply. Logamani explains, in English.

“There were three babies in between, all girls. They aborted them each time.”

Now, with the birth of her longed-for son, Malathy has undergone ‘family planning’ – sterilisation.

It is this odd mixture of old beliefs and new ideas that permeates the district. And while the signs in Madurai district are of a steady march toward a better, more equal life for its women and girls, it is not something that can happen soon enough. Now the glaring eye of the media has lost its intensity, it is more important than ever to support those who are working so hard to help girls live a safe, fulfilling, empowered life.

Visit www.wedtrustindia.org to learn more or find out how you can help

Source - http://www.indianlink.com.au/just-a-girl/

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 We, as parents or mature adults often consider our children as not only naive but also oblivious of what is happening in their surroundings. This is actually true for us. We generally don’t pay much attention to what our children are looking at and most importantly how are they looking at it. I was trying to explain my students that sometimes it’s ok if our parents fight, like you all fight with your friends. Her statement came as a slap on my face when my student said “But, ma’am our parents don’t understand that we are suffering..” For a moment I was speechless. I nodded and repeated what she said “Yes, it is true that you suffer and it is painful to see ‘parents’ fight.” Some children believe that they are the cause of their parents’ fights; “Ma’am my parents never fought before I was born. It is only after my birth that they have started fighting”, said Jai (name changed) and some children just wonder as to why parents fight; “I was 4 years old since then I am seeing my parents fighting”, said one of my student buddy counselor in the session.

 

Divorce! Is a compromise that we believe is the best decision for the family peace. But, from a child’s perspective it is just pain where s/he is being ripped apart. One of my students whose parents decided to live separately was referred to me for counseling. Apparently, he is a happy and jovial child. “He is like any other child in my class. There is no problem. He just needs to pay more attention in class and concentrate on his written work. Sometimes he gets in to fights with his friends. Rest is fine”, said his class teacher to me and his mother. Even I believed in it until I saw his drawings in my sessions. He drew a young boy who was standing on a balancing beam, had a tail and long nails. His mother shared that whatever he draws he scribbles on it or just doodles a lot on the paper. It was evident from these drawings that this boy wanted some stability and security in his environment (basically in his home). There was a lot of suppressed anger and aggression in this child. “I had thought that he has taken our divorce very comfortably”, said the shocked mother when I showed her the drawings. Children, too suppress their feelings which trouble them in their daily classroom functioning, like it did to this 9 year old boy.

 

The age at which our children ask us which type of shoes goes best with their favourite dress; some couples expect them to decide whether to live with daddy or mumma. “I want to go back to ‘my home’. I know my dad was a bad man but I miss my grandparents and bua (paternal aunt). I want all of them back”, said Nitin (name changed) in our group session. No matter how cruel we may consider our spouse is to us, s/he is a parent to that child. Children accept their parents unconditionally and this is what they expect from their parents too. Here I would like to give a perspective of a 16 year old who was wounded badly by his parents’ divorce. “It’s Ok that now they have decided to live separately but I hate it when my dad keeps screaming that my mum is an evil woman. Also, I don’t like the fact that my mom blames me for my decision to live with my dad. My mom can only manage the finances for my sister so I chose to live with my dad. I am tired and I want to end my life now”, said a 16 year old boy who felt directionless and helpless.    As a solution, the group was silent and so was I. Should they part ways or not is difficult to say. This is true that all parents fight. This is also a fact that children suffer. We ended the session listening to each other’s silence. Children took a pledge that they will not share what happened in the session today with anybody else in the school. I end this write up here for us to feel the silences of those children and introspect on “why do we as parents fight?”   Sometimes, some discussions end without a closure and leaves us to unrest..  

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Alcohol and drugs consists of inebriated substance as the active agent. Dependency of which becomes a chronic iterated distract which deteriorates an individual’s health, disables him mentally and physically, marred their personal and social life completely.
 

Loads of examples exist in our surroundings which is unavoidable. Drinking and drugs problem give arise to household violence which means physically torturing their families, spouse and kids. Try imagining what exactly people who have gone through this torture feels. Yes, they feel humiliated and vulnerable to the circumstances they have been put through and the mental trauma which child goes through is beyond our imagination.

This ultimately brings a drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving of a child as well, either child becomes still and lags behind in what he does or he heads towards the same direction from where he faced this agony.

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