Ludhiana, April 15, 2018: Dedicated to working towards a world free of sexual abuse within families, End Incest Trust organised their second open house, in Ludhiana this time. On a mission to raise awareness about incest abuse, the Trust got Ludhiana citizens to talk about the biggest social taboo of our society.
Crossing all socio-economic, academic, professional and religious boundaries, incestuous sexual abuse begins and ends within the four walls of our homes. It affects not just children, but men and women of our families. Suicide is not a rare occurrence either, and still we continue to ignore abuse happening right at home.
A team of experts from medico-legal, mental health and research fields included Dr.Neelam Sodhi, Dr.Khushveen, Mr.Ajay Jindal, Dr.Rajeev Gupta, Dr.Priyanka Kalra, Dr.Aman Amrit Cheema, and Supreet Dhiman. 38 Ludhianvis from all age groups, professions and walks of life came forward, determined to bring incest out of the closet.
The discussion began by defining what incest means to ensure clarity over the subject, and questioning the complete denial and lack of reporting by the society at large. Some wanted to know from the experts what turns a person incestuous and commit the crime against the ones we are supposed to love and protect. Others asked how to recognize a perpetrator from one’s behavior. Role of the family was hugely emphazied. It was unanimously recognized how the family routinely hushes up the matter in the name of family honour, or in fear of the power and position of the perpetrator, which in fact amounts to double-victimisation of the already traumatised victim.
The experts shared actual incidents of incest abuse that they had come across in their own practice. 4 participants shared their own trauma of being abused by the family. Disbelief mixed with shock and anger against the perpetrators of incest abuse made people question what pushes a person into such a heinous crime, committed against their own family, the ones they are supposed to love and protect. There was a round of applause for one victim who fought and won the battle of incest abuse and is willing to support others who are still suffering. A big question as to the efficacy of law in general and the police’s role in particular was raised.
The open house served to discuss many legal aspects of POCSO, the new powerful law to protect our children. The most vulnerable age bracket is 7 to 19 years, and it was clarified that ‘time-bar’ issue does not prohibit registration of a case of such abuse, as 92% of the victims generally take months and even years to share their trauma.
Researcher of End Incest, Supreet Dhiman from Chandigarh, moderated the Open House event. She ended with an appeal by participants for a ‘Help & Heal’ support platform to be created, extensive awareness sessions to be held, and a panel of trained counselors to be formed. In addition, sensitizing the parents about the importance of creating a ‘Protect & Prevent’ environment in which open discussions are encouraged and the subject can be discussed free of shame at home. Such was the strength of discussions and the passion of the participants that immediately a dozen Ludhianvis under the leadership of Dr Neelam Sodhi, volunteered to be part of the awareness drive, Dr Gupta from Manas Hospital offered mental health support to those affected, Dr Priyanka and Dr Khushveen formed a team to lead the sensitization drive. Dr Aman Amrit Cheema offered to lead the awareness drive at the University and colleges. Dr Vibhu Narad and Mrs Harpreet Soin among others were ready to take the message to playways, schools and colleges.