She looked tinier than usual, and then she said it out loud, "Today, at the park, a boy squeezed my chest."
My Daughter Is 7 And Two Boys Grabbed Her 'Chest' Playfully: I Can't Do Anything About It
Hush now, baby...Share
It was 7 pm, I was just back from work, washing off the sweat from my face when she uttered, "Something bad happened today, Ma". I froze, in that very moment. My heart skipped a beat before it could regain its rhythm. My voice sounding eerily squeaky I asked her, "What happened, my love?" My brain had already come up with the the most horrible answer, I could sense it in her voice.
Hastily, I washed the soap off my eyes and turned around to look at her. My daughter, all of seven, was restlessly sitting on the edge of the bed. Her short hair was tied up into two lopsided ponytails; her growing bangs had escaped the hair clips that were meant to keep them in place. She had a pair of leggings on and a sweatshirt with a sequinned puppy across the front.
She looked tinier than usual, and then she said it out loud, "Today, at the park, a boy squeezed my chest."Share
My world fell apart in that second but I tried to keep my voice calm and asked her to tell me what happened. She told me how two bhaiyas cornered her on the slide and started to 'playfully' grab her chest. She didn’t realise at first but then she started feeling uncomfortable. She remembered our talk about 'safe touch' and immediately reported the incident to an uncle. The boys ran away.
I looked at her little face and choked by my tears of rage, I sat next to her and held her. I told her that what happened to her was not okay. That it was absolutely not okay for anyone to touch her in a way that made her uncomfortable or feel pain. I told her she did a great thing by running away and complaining to a trusted adult. I told her that I love her and that she was amazing and that we would try our best to see that nothing of the sort ever happened again.
With a little sigh she said, "It was bad." We sat side-by-side, her head leaning into my chest in silence for a while.Share
Apart from the bile-like-revulsion, lava-like anger and tsunami-like-despair that passed through me, there was one reverberating subconscious thought rattling against the confines of my brain, 'Her first...'.
As a parent, the words 'first' and 'milestone' usually stir up a batter of happy feelings. Unsurprisingly, not this time. I also knew I lied to her, this wasn't the last time she was paying a price to have stepped into this world as a girl.
A popular boy at school, fortified by an entourage in tow, teases you for your ‘iron-board’ chest. Everybody laughs. You try stuffing your bra in the evening.
Another boy; ex-best friend, current-boyfriend, but pssssst no one knows. Teenage hormones. Attraction. First base, second base. He tells you he likes small breasts and big asses. You feel validated. Three days later, you are labelled as the girl who does ‘dirty things’ by a group of juniors.
At the bus-stop . At the railway station. At the vegetable market. The short walk to the grocery store. Eyes on you. Eyes on your breasts. Eyes that burn into your behind. You learn to tuck in your arms, to slouch so that neither breast nor arse draws attention. You look down. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t laugh like you do. Fold your arms over your chest. Later, when you are older, your arms will want to do the same – sheer habit.
Field trip with classmates — all girls in a train. You wake up at night to your friend jabbing you, she points. You look. Wish you hadn’t. A man sitting on the lower berth, his dick in his hand, pumping vigorously. He is putting on a show. A minute later he’s gone, straightening his police uniform.Share
Hands. They brush across your bottom. They brush against your hips. You will find anger–your new best friend-unlike the wimpy shame. The coiling stench in your head when you have been invaded, soiled, VIOLATED. Yes, anger becomes your best friend. You learn to respond. Stamping on feet, to the 'accidental' graze. An elbow jab between the ribs, retort to the causal grope. And then the middle-aged man, the ‘decent’ looking one, leans into your back, you move, he leans, you move again, he leans some more. You feel ‘it’ against your bum. Anger. ‘What do you think you are doing. How much space do you have around you? You are supposed to be educated? You %^&&***%$#@@&$&$*%... You belt it out.” A bus full of people. Silence. Tears that you drink down along with that wimpy shame.
Older. Not much wiser. They like your nose pierced, they like your tattoo, they love how you go down on your knees and do the do. Such a sport; such a wild child. Oh I love you, but I don’t think my family will approve.
They say later, "She’s not the kind of girl you can marry."Share
Hussssband. Don’t ask for sex. But give when asked. So what if it’s about ten minutes of groping-good ol' BJ-penetration-five stroke and come routine. Lights off. So what if he has never looked below your belt. So what if he never so much as touched you ‘there with a finger’ other than to get in-get off-get out. So what if he thinks you are a perv for wanting oral? Ewwwwww.
Gets worse. Gets you pregnant. He hates condoms, can’t feel you. It is a risky time, you warn. Promises he won’t come inside. Does. Pregnant. You feel guilty telling him. Abortion.Share
You have been acquired. Men who listen to their wives are a disgrace. 'Whipped' Property doesn't mind being yelled at. Property doesn’t mind being called names. Property doesn’t have a problem with fists in its face. Property just is. Property doesn’t scream when its hammered and hacked. It changes. Renovated. Property doesn’t leave. Property doesn’t refuse to spread its legs.
Lecherous old man at conference stares down your blouse, follows you around through the event,takes pictures of you without asking you, offers to walk you to your hotel room, asks you for your number. You tell him, "I don’t know you, please leave me alone or I’ll have to tell the organisers that you're bothering me.”
He tells you, "You modern women are such bitches-I am telling you, iss feminism ki vajah se hi itni shaadiyaan toot rahi hain." As he gesticulates with his sausage-like finger, his gaudy wedding band catches the light.Share
After this quick trip down the most horrible memory lane of every girl in this world, I come back and strive to protect my baby. I want to go find those boys at the park. I want to maybe talk to their parents. They are not bad people. They aren’t evil. They were not looking to hurt. They were curious and most likely feeling the tenacious tempering of adolescent hormones. But today they violated a human being. They do not know that. Chances are they will never know.
The thing about abuse is that you don’t know what it feels like when dignity is snatched away from you oh-so-callously. When you are invaded, when you are stripped of your innocence, when you are unwilling. I wish I could tell the parents all of this.
Teach your boys about consent. Teach your boys about respect. Teach your boys about empathy. Teach your boys about humanity. You, who are proud to be the educated, 'well-settled' lot. I don't want to protect my daughter and make her feel weak all her life, I want you to teach your sons a thing or two instead.Share
A daughter's mother is reaching out to you. Every step counts, share this article so every parent can hear her loud and clear. We need to stop protecting our girls and start teaching our boys instead.