Rape and molestation are crimes that we mostly associate with just women. But, horrifyingly though, there are a number of perverts in our society, who prey upon little boys and young, helpless men.
There is no denying that young women and frequently now, little girls are the prime targets for this kind of low-lives. But it is time to wake up to the fact that our little boys need protection too. There are many ways that boys are exploited and their innocence toyed with.
There are no safe places that our children are secure in. Studies have, time and again revealed that a majority of these incidents occur at home, the culprits being relatives and close friends. Even at school, a few senior boys and some pervert teachers take advantage of young boys. Students staying in hostels in both school and college levels face such exploitation frequently. Sending small children alone to parks should also be avoided, until they are old enough to take care of themselves.
Sexual exploitation does not necessarily mean rape. Though it is the most heinous act, the following are also considered to be acts of sexual exploitation.
1. Older men/boys asking little ones to undress and reveal their private parts.
2. Undressing or flashing their privates.
3. Touching them in those areas.
4. Forcing the kids to touch their genitals.
5. Kissing or hugging them, which makes them extremely uncomfortable.
6. Taking their pictures in various stages of undress and in compromising positions (child pornography).
7. And finally, the most chilling, sodomizing the kids.
Sometimes, the offender commits these acts, but the parents seldom come to know about it. The reasons being,
1. The child is made to believe that these are punishments for his so-called mistakes.
2. If the child has done something wrong (harmless pranks), the offender threatens to reveal it to his parents and blackmails him into submission.
3. The child is ashamed and scared and thinks that somehow he himself is to blame.
4. He has no idea that what he is going through is wrong and unacceptable and he can complain.
So, how do we protect our boys is the million dollar question, which arises in our minds. The answer is by creating awareness in them. If we sense reluctance in them to go to some particular place, if he becomes uneasy, fidgety or scared in someone’s presence or if they don’t give specific answers to your questions, it is better to sit with them and talk it out or make them aware that there are dirty people around, and what they can possibly do and heaven forbid, if someone makes such a move, just shout and inform parents/ teachers or any responsible person around. Parents can approach the law and have the police register a case against the offenders under ‘Protection of children from Sexual offences Act 2012’.
Now, coming to the part,about grown-up adult men being targeted. Are they targeted? Yes, they are. In US, of all the sexual assault cases registered, 10% of the victims are men. In colleges, in a study of sexual abuse involving 600 college students, 28% of the abused were men. But, unfortunately, in such cases, men are not taken seriously and the cases are not treated equally compared to the cases involving women.
In offices and workplaces, a few senior women officials propositioning junior male staff members for their sexual gratification is a reality that people are just waking up to. Non-consensual sex is all about power and unscrupulous women use it to wield theirs as portrayed in the bollywood film ‘Aitraaz’, where the boss played by Priyanka Chopra propositions the protagonist of the film Akshay Kumar. This was the first such film in bollywood, where sexual harassment of men in the work place was depicted. All fiction has their base in reality and this is one of those works. According to Indian Penal Code (IPC), cases can be registered involving sexual harassment of men under sec 363 to 369, and under sec 371 to 373.
According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) 2012 data, 175 men were abducted for sexual exploitation. Since 2009, 995 cases have been registered where the men were sexually molested. Many young men, to whom this misfortune strikes, get trapped in those murky depths involving human trafficking and end up being prostitutes. Under section 355 of the IPC, these cases can be registered as assault cases or criminal force with intent to dishonor the person. But sadly, due to low awareness, the culprits usually go scot-free, or the people involved fail do so, fearing family dishonor and public ridicule and the stigma of being sexually exploited.
So, fellow people, let us not be either chauvinists or feminists but rather let us be humanists and join hands to create awareness and help prevent sexual exploitation and assault against any member of human race, be it boy or girl, man or woman.