I am Woman, head held high

Posted: April 8, 2011

Guest Blogger Lavanya Sampath is a young working mum, an Indian living abroad, a budding entrepreneur and a singer. Music, arts and photography are her passion. In her own words, “I jot down my personal & professional experiences to reach out to women in similar situations.”

I had two hours yesterday when my toddler snoozed into her afternoon nap. I had the trinkets I had to organize in my cupboard, that clock in the guest room that needed to be hung, the rest of my tryst at canvas painting waiting to be finished, but I chose to do something else. Something that I hadn t done in a while read a book! One of my colleagues gave me this book Sold by Patricia Mccormick saying I had to read it. And so I did. 143 minutes and I felt every part of me touched and awakened by emotion, filled with remorse at the way some of our lives change without any prior warning why there are millions of 13-something girls trapped in a world of flesh trade when all they really care about is eating sugar lollies and wearing matching satin ribbons with their colourful skirts.

Statistics says that 1 in every 5 women in India is sexually abused and about 40% of young Indian girls aged between 11 and 14 years are forced to take up prostitution as an occupation against all odds as you can imagine. There are uncles, family friends and in some cases even fathers who are the reasons a young girl is sexually assaulted and pushed into the flesh trade. Poverty and hunger drive human minds crazy. After initial resistance these young girls also accept this push as a way of life in order to sustain and support their families with little realization that what they reap is not just scarred experiences, but also a unhealthy physical self.

On one hand are the Lakshmis (the character from Sold ) – poor and underfed village girls who are sold by their fathers to brothels across India where not only do they lose their virginity, but also their will to live and lead the life of a child just 13 years of age! On the other hand are the Kalpanas, Gitas and the Priyas who are the girls you see everyday playing in your neighbourhood, attending music classes with your cousins who are so well protected in their lives and yet are sexually abused by a dear friend or relative or someone they truly trust that it shatters their dreams and the child in them. They neither talk about it to their parents or support organizations nor do they get over the trauma inflicted upon them at such a tender age. Emotions bottle up incessantly to explode one day or come out when they reach adulthood. But in both cases, at such a young age the emotion etched in the heart is fear.

When I landed on the final page of the book, I was filled with anger and resentment and wanted to just run and save as many of such young girls in red light areas as Lakshmi. I still do. We all want to. We all want to stop life from being unfair to some of us. What can we do?

Encourage young girls to be confident of who they are and see the great inner strength they possess.

Earn little girls trust and make them feel they can confide in you and NOT treat you as a friend.

If you are the parent, understand your little girl and respect her for who she is and NOT for who you want her to be.  Being a parent, find the right time to talk about sexual education NO it is not an awkward topic; it is science and YES it is best parents do this talk.

Talk from time to time.

DO NOT treat them as adults, but treat them as children you like to talk to. Treating children as adults sometimes puts undue pressure on them and gets them to think they can be adults themselves.

Teach them to be aware of themselves emotionally and physically.

Donate – with the right intent and for a good cause.

Remember it is only little drops of water that make an ocean. We all know what we have to do. But seldom do we put things into action. Get out there and make a difference in every possible way that you can.

I am Woman. Head held high!

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  1. ‘If you are the parent, understand your little girl and respect her for who she is and NOT for who you want her to be.’Very true. If only mothers/parents listened to their children instead of wanting them to listen all the time they would be able to communicate their worst fears and insecurities without any hesitation. It would boost their confidence in more ways than one.

    • Definitely! Imagine if you could confide in somebody without the risk of being judged! As a parent it is very easy to get into a ‘judgmental’ zone.

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