These days, there are many stories of fathers sexually abusing or assaulting their own daughters. In the recent past, BJP leader and actor Khushbu Sundar opened up about sexual abuse by her father, which she described as leaving scars for life. At the age of eight, Khushbu Sundar went through sexual abuse by her father and could not open up about it till the age of 15. The trauma she went through as a child has scarred her for life, and she was fighting for others today. Before this news settled, Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal made the same terrible revelation.
She told the media that her own father used to sexually assault her when she was a young girl. He used to beat her up a lot. As a child, she was petrified when he came home and often hid under the bed. Her father held her by her ponytails and banged her head against the wall. She used to bleed from the head on impact. Maliwal lived with her father till she was in the fourth grade of school, and it happened several times then.
Khushbu and Maliwal are privileged women, and their voices are heard, but there is much news on a daily basis where fathers randomly abuse daughters; some make them pregnant, and some even kill them after rape. We read the news, feel sorry, and forget. As a society, somewhere we lack our social responsibility of saving a girl child. These abuses give children confidence issues, and that literally robs their childhood. Unfortunately, there are fathers who believe that their daughters are personal possessions that they can do whatever they want with. These men see women as sex objects and not as human beings. Father was the first man that they trusted, and he betrayed their trust brutally.
It’s a journey to heal these deep wounds. One of the most important steps to healing is letting go of personal responsibility. Nothing that happened was my daughter’s fault. Offenders often justify their behavior by cognitively distorting their reasoning; again, the excuse “she came onto me” is common, as is “I told her to tell me if she wanted me to stop”; both of these transfer the responsibility of the offender onto the child. Mothers and women are also parents. Women do not tend to covet infants and children; it is exceedingly rare. The tendency towards child rape and rape in general seems to be a disease and pathology on the male line.
Furthermore, when the sexually abused children become adults, they are often mentally and spiritually destroyed, with self-harm, addictions, and high suicide rates. The so-called ‘loving’ fathers have cursed their own lineage since they groom their own children to be the doormats of humanity by destroying what should have been a healthy ego. You have more or less killed the child, since they will have a lifelong burden of ego fragmentation and mental illness. It is only by some miracle and extensive determination to salvage their lives that those survivors of childhood abuse can undergo a metamorphic journey within themselves and shed the trauma of a really disgusting betrayal of trust.
Child abuse, including sexual abuse, especially chronic abuse at early ages, leaves horrible mental and physical wounds in children for life. They suffer amnesia from the abuse of memories. Recent research showed that females with high exposure to child sexual abuse (CSA) develop PTSD symptoms that are associated with poor social functioning, which is also supported by prior research studies. The feelings of being “cut off” from peers and “emotional numbness” are both results of CSA and highly inhibit proper social functioning.
In such cases where the sexual offender is a father, stepfather, or grandfather, the daughters have no voice. The rape victim cannot even tell someone because, in most cases, they were not heard. Male-dominant families suppress the voice of the daughter, but they never question the father or complain against him. Financial dependency is the biggest issue in some families. Women are not independent. It is believed that the rape victim’s call for help, which is frequently directed toward the mother, is ignored by the mother because acknowledging the rape poses a threat to a cohesive family structure. The mother’s powerlessness often reaffirms the daughter’s feelings of powerlessness and frequently prevents the daughter from putting a stop to the sexual abuse.
Father-daughter rape may continue for many years because the victim has no one to turn to. Another problem with incest stems from the fact that most children are taught that danger lies outside the home and not in the family. These children are unaware that any harm can occur to them within the home. Children may sense that their fathers’ fondling of them is wrong, but since they are not accustomed to being exposed to harm in the home and are accustomed to being controlled by their parents, they may continue to permit themselves to be used as sexual objects. Most of these rapes aren’t about sexual desire; they’re about power.
Our Prime Minister may say “Beti Bachao, Beti Padho,” but no one is here to keep checks or provide social security for daughters. The rapes are on the rise in India, and I think they are never going to stop.