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“When my daughter Mita started school she was a happy, friendly and sociable child. She excelled at school and had lots of friends. She had a very kind heart and used to live in a world where everything is lovely and there are no bad people. She was loved to bits by her dad and I.

“About a year after she started school, Mita’s teachers started to call us in to discuss her behaviour. On various occasions Mita’s teacher told us that Mita wasn’t doing the work she had been set and couldn’t concentrate. Mita was stamping her foot and growling when she was asked to do work. This kind of behaviour was completely out of character for her.

“We were getting called into her school more and more regularly as Mita’s disruptive behaviour escalated. It was worrying because I had never seen Mita behave in this way and she wasn’t displaying any of these behaviours at home. I noticed that after school holidays we would get called in more often than towards the end of term. It made me think that maybe Mita was picking up the behaviour from other children she was playing with in the holidays.

“I asked her if anyone had touched her anywhere private other than me or her father. As always, I expected her to say no but she didn’t, she said yes.”

“One day, after picking up Mita from an after-school club she attended in the school holidays, I was getting her undressed at home and became worried about some marks I saw on her. Just randomly, as I have done in the past, I asked her if anyone had touched her anywhere private other than me or her father. As always, I expected her to say no but she didn’t, she said yes. She said that an adult who worked at the school and the afterschool club had touched her there.

“I was so confused; I wondered if the incident had been an accident, what had exactly happened and whether my daughter was ok. I sat down and asked her to explain exactly what had happened. She told me where the member of staff had touched her, exactly what he had done and then told me that he had hurt her and hadn’t said sorry. She had been sexually assaulted. I was shocked and numb, but disgusted and then very angry. I couldn’t comprehend that someone had assaulted my 4 1/2 year old daughter in that way.

“We reported the assault to social services, who referred Mita to a sexual abuse clinic and the police. Mita was questioned by the police and her clothes were sent off to be forensically tested.

“Mita’s dad and I thought that Mita was ok and that she hadn’t been affected by what had happened to her and hoped that she was too young to fully understand. Then a couple of weeks after she told us about the abuse she started to display very sexualised behaviour which wasn’t normal for her and certainly wasn’t normal for a 5 year old. She had become completely disengaged with school and didn’t want to do homework which she’d enjoyed before. I told the sexual abuse clinic about my concerns and Mita’s behaviour. They recommended that Mita do some therapeutic work with counseling clinic and she started seeing the therapist.

“Perhaps the most telling change is that Mita has stopped carrying around her comfort teddy. The teddy used to be her protector and look out; making sure the bad men weren’t coming again.”

“I’ve seen a real change in Mita since she started working with therapist; she seems more assertive and ready to report wrongdoings. She’s settled in at her new school and is doing really well. She’s stopped the sexualised behaviour too. Perhaps the most telling change is that Mita has stopped carrying around her comfort teddy. The teddy used to be her protector and look out; making sure the bad men weren’t coming again.

“We don’t know how long the sexual abuse had been going on for. Mita’s behaviour had changed a couple of months before we found out about the abuse and, from what we understand from Mita’s therapy, the assault she told me about wasn’t the only assault that took place.

“Mita kept quiet about the abuse she went through because she didn’t understand what was happening to her and because she was afraid to tell anyone. I hadn’t spoken to Mita about not letting people touch her where she wears her underwear because I had never thought anything like this would happen to my child. It wasn’t something I felt I needed to speak to her about yet. She knew that she shouldn’t go off with a stranger, but the person who sexually abused her wasn’t a stranger, he was a person of authority in her life.

“I didn’t have the language to speak to Mita in an age appropriate way about keeping her body private or about what constituted sexual abuse. If Mita had known that what was happening to her was wrong, then she would have spoken to me about it and we could have stopped the abuse earlier.”


I wish I had talked about it to my daughter earlier then she would not have to go through the months of abuse. But I urge all the parents to teach their children about good & bad touch and create a space for them so that they can directly come and talk to you.


*Name has been changed on request.

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A 9th standard student shares her story of gender based violence.

One day I was coming back from my tuition and the group of boys were sitting in the park that I usually cross while coming back. The boys sitting there abused me and also insulted me to which I was shocked and horrified.

Confused me ran very fast from there to home and told my father about the same. I was amazed by his answer that, “you should have slapped them instead and taught them a lesson so that they do not dare to do the same again to any girl.”

His words reassured confidence in me and I am firm enough now to not let anyone pass by just like that who tries to harass me.

But that incident still scares me if I think of it and it is daily reality for most of the girls and I wish each one of us becomes bold to face these situations with confidence.


*Name changed on request.

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