Published: 23rd April 2018
Don't let anyone kiss you: Why these anti-abuse suggestions in a TN textbook made me cringe
The Tamil Nadu State syllabus science book for eight standard lists out ways to prevent sexual abuse and one of the points is to stay away from 'the opposite sex'
At a time when it is nothing less than non-negotiable that children get the right kind of information about sexual abuse, the sort of material eighth standard students in Tamil Nadu are reading in their science textbook is worrisome, if not cringe-worthy. From cautioning young girls to not dress provocatively and take care of the way they sit, it goes as far as to suggest that they should stay away from the opposite sex while in transit.
Under a chapter named 'Reaching the age of adolescence' in their textbooks, the students are taught about the signs of puberty and the process of menstruation and reproduction. In the middle of all this, there's a section that talks about sexual abuse. Under this section, the authors say that there are "three stages in the prevention of sexual abuse" - primary, secondary and tertiary.
The primary stage, the authors say, involves preventing the abuse from even happening. And this is how it is apparently possible -
- Avoid being alone in the company of a suspected person
- Don't wear provocative dresses
- Do not let anyone hug, pet or kiss you
- Take care of the way you sit
- When you are going to school by auto, bus or train, stay away from the opposite sex
With more and more stories of child abuse coming out, it is important that now more than ever to try our best as a community to find ways to stop this abuse. It is also essential that children themselves get to know about sexual abuse, especially because in almost 80 percent of the cases, the perpetrator is someone who is already known to them.
The 13 and 14-year-olds who are reading this are being misguided about how they can prevent sexual abuse and they are also led to believe that in some way they can prevent it by the way that they dress or sit! The textbook reeks of ignorance and patriarchy, again throwing light on the fact that over and over again girls are being told that the onus is on them to be safe, that by dressing right they can stop abuse from happening. Much like so many of our ministers in power.