Of perverts and voyeurs
The carefully preserved fairy tale of childhood being the most sacrosanct period of our other tumultuous life is quickly evaporating. 36,022 cases of child sexual abuse were registered across our country, in the year 2016. This number is only a patch on reality, which harnesses a far more accentuated truth. Children, due to their naivety, fall easy prey to the wily ways of conniving adults looking to fulfil their sense of perversion and pleasure. The instances of child sexual abuse aside, what is also on the rise is the voyeuristic joy that individuals are deriving from viewing children being forced to engage in sexual activities. Social media has plagued this generation, unlike any other intervention. The internet has brought every kind of information to our doorsteps. Few utilise this technology for its virtues, giving in more readily to its vices and the evils that are carefully guarded under the layers of web pages and seemingly innocuous advertisements. Child pornography and its rampant proliferation today, has unravelled the dark face of our society. It seems that the sensibilities and dignity with which we cloak ourselves, is only figurative, rarely ever projecting any literal scope. The shanty CD shop which sells 1990s Bollywood reels, on a closer inspection, has carefully stacked CDs of adult films hidden quietly below the glaring colourful posters of B-grade Hindi movies. Of these adult films, many carry reels of children engaging in sexual mischiefs, largely an outcome of coercion, providing the viewer with an ideal taste of voyeuristic joy. While sex is becoming less tabooed, the misuse of sex is being enhanced by the minute. A Hyderabad-based NGO 'Prajwala' had initiated a hearing in 2015 that sought to address this prevailing issue of child sexual videoing that is rampantly in circulation today, on the internet and outside. Taking cognizance of this, the Supreme Court has now directed the Centre to establish a portal by January 10 that would attend to complaints registered by citizens on child sexual abuse, child pornography and gang rape videos. These circulated videos are often used by the perpetrator as a means to silence the victim, who in fear of social stigma and indecent publicity, succumbs to the abuser's wily ways. It is absolutely shameful that our society harnesses individuals who derive sickening pleasure from watching the sexual abuse of children, whose innocence doesn't correspond with the practice of sexual engagement. Despite the absence of concrete data, it is estimated that India has grown to become, today, one of the largest contributors and consumers of child pornography in the world. While Kerala leads in contribution, Haryana tops in consumption. The Indian Cyber Army director Kislay Chaudhary had noted that in the absence of realistic data, it could still be suggested that in our country, search engines receive over 1,16,000 queries per day related to child pornography. India's reputation on the global map is sliding, especially in terms of its social fabrication. Indian men are quickly recognised as perverts, unable to control raging hormones. With these aspects now at the forefront, we can hardly debate against the notion that our country incubates the most animalistic tendencies, infusing so much patriarchy that the practice of restraint is a lost ideal. Shockingly, of the content uploaded on the internet, 35-38 per cent involves child sexual abuse or child sexual engagement. Given our massive population and the free use of the internet today, the task of ascertaining the source of such content becomes an onerous task. Victims belonging to rural areas or among the urban poor are the most vulnerable, as their limited access to resources constrains their ability to fight back in the face of adversity. Capitalising on this disability, perpetrators loom large, creating an industry out of the most shameful practices. The Supreme Court has made an essential cognizance by highlighting the brutality and unlawful nature of this thriving business that is hampering the sanctity and lives of children growing in our country today. Yet, despite the government setting up a portal, a lot more must be accomplished for this phenomenon to see its end. What is still amiss is an educated consciousness among our civil society that will condemn the prevalence of such practices. Instead of protesting, we have citizens who are enjoying these videos in the darkness of their rooms or in the quiet corners of their offices. The silencing of victims has been a practice endemic to our society, thus enhancing the role of civilians. Every such instance of child sexual abuse has to be vociferously condemned for it to be erased from our contemporary history. The myth of 'kali yuga' gains the most veracity when such evils loom large with the innocence of childhood being annexed at the hands of perverts who are shamelessly thriving even among the educated sections of our society. The government must maintain a strong vigilance upon this portal and the civil society must awaken. Citizens are the essential pivot upon which this positive change can be ushered. Perverts must be brutally condemned and voyeurs ought to be held equally responsible.