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February 16, 2021 Tuesday 10:59:23 AM IST

Home, the New Womb?

Guest Column

The Home is the extension of mother’s womb and the safest place a child can wish for on the earth. As earth is constantly undergoing change so are the ideas, beliefs, and concepts that people hold fast to. However, not every change can be placed in the positive streak, some are inclined to the negative as well. These days we find families becoming smaller and smaller. The time spend by the members together become minimal, as parents have no time for children and children for parents, due to their online classes and video games. Family values are hijacked by the extended work times and materialistic social world. Thus, we are becoming strangers living under the same roof. The most vulnerable and affected are always the children as they are losing the irreplaceable pleasures that the kids of the early decades enjoyed; the plantain leaf lunch they shared, the soothing effect of their grandparents’ caresses, the awaited meeting of friends after school, and such to name a few.

Defining Home

Can the word ‘home’ be limited to the societal conventions that it has been strictly bound all these years or is it time to observe it in a new panorama? Can it be limited to the etymological understanding of a simple habitat where the family resides together or is it ripe now to observe the cultural, political, and societal relevance that it carries along with it? Most importantly, is it safe enough to consider it abstractly as something equivalent to the mother’s womb? These questions are more relevant in the Indian background which is home to 19% of the world’s children and one of the countries where the most notorious of child abuses are reported.

If we observe the pre-Corona days, with the development of technology, people in general were at an emotional social distance from their near and dear ones. For instance, children quit the playgrounds and focussed more on video games. People at work began to be more focussed on individual benefits rather than team spirit. With the corona coming into the frame, it became more of a breeding ground for these harmful tendencies. It prepared the era for physical distancing at a faster pace among people. However, as people became confined within the four walls of their homes, it paved the way to an increase in the frequency of abuse individuals have to suffer within their homes. Thus, the Covid pandemic and the lockdown series exhibit a spike in the instances of domestic violence as victims (mainly women and children) are trapped indoors with their abusers. The unsaid truth remains that the lockdown has made both the reporting of these abuses and the timely interventions in a slower often neglected rhythm.

Child Abuse

The number of children abused sexually or physically is increasing and their trauma is deepening. The recent incidents of girls aged 12 and 13 undergoing abortions due to rapes by parents or relatives are shocking. Where has the concept of Indian tradition and values disappeared? Are we moving on to a ‘wasteland’ as pictured by T. S. Eliot where conversations of rapes and abortions become the talk of the period? To what extent is the human race planning to degrade? To consider abortions as legal and to acknowledge the freedom of individuals to decide their own life takes another turn when it comes to children. The society seems to have forgotten the fact that the sexual interaction with children under 18 years remains a crime even if the children unknowingly or knowingly agrees to the sexual act. If the society plans to turn a blind eye to these issues, the long years of struggles invested for abolishing child marriage is a matter to laugh at, since ironically, we are supporting something which we have fought against. It all culminates in the same pit: the physical and mental abuse of children.

Social Media and Pornography

The younger generation is seen to be increasingly getting addicted to social media and pornography. The porn sites which feature incest and verbal as well as physical abuse become a self-destroying drug that is introduced at early ages such as below ten years. The curiosity would often lead the child to try out, experience, and experiment with the information thus available not realising the consequences of doing so. This is the major reason why children often willingly agree to such acts and become the sexual object for others. The traps caused by the advancement of science and technology especially through social media and internet cannot be solved by avoiding it. Rather the solution to this issue lies within the problem.

Children often go after pornography because they want to know more about it in this era of information overload. You get information about anything and everything within the online space. In the postmodern period, it is not about merely trying to find solutions to the problem, it is also about confounding the problems. Nothing can be achieved through hiding or being silent on these issues. If the world is changing, make sure that you swim along with it but ensuring that you are swimming towards land and not merely following the huge crowd before you. The answer lies in simply talking and discussing these ‘taboo topics’ with the children. Let them get exposed to these matters first-hand through their parents and not the internet or peer groups.

Children must be provided adequate information about their bodies, the changes that take place as they grow physically and emotionally. The most important of all is to react and inform the concerned about any incidents of abuse ‘within’ or ‘outside’ their homes. The primary role of the parents is to educate the child on how to react and not scare them from reacting. We need our children to be mature and happy without any traumas and depressions. We want our homes to be safe again...

Prince Punnan Puthettu

Theology Student, Samanvaya, Bhopal Read more articles..