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Speak up on abuse, says psychologist

Over the years, reports of child sexual abuse have seen a hike as people have become more aware of it and are ready to talk about it, said Neha Siddanahali Mummigatti, co-founder of ‘Vihar’. Speaking at the St Joseph’s College (Autonomous), she urged the students to be more comfortable to talk about sexuality and sex abuse, and not to be ashamed of it.

She also spoke about gender bias when it comes to sexual harassment. She talked about the basics, including different kinds of harassment, for instance, touch, verbal, visual and personal space.

Gender is not to be seen as a binary aspect, she said. Transgenders should be considered as a separate gender, she added. Child sexual abuse in India is up 53 percent, she said. “Culturally, sexuality is seen as dirty or impure,” said Mummigatti, who works with the Enfold Proactive Health Trust. She spoke about how victims tend to not report these abuses. Since stalking is romanticised through Bollywood movies, it is not seen as an abuse anymore, she explained. She explained about an Act against sexual harassment of women at the workplace called the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, and one for children: the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

She gave insights into how sexual harassment takes place in workplaces and educational institutions, and the steps that need to be taken to report and prevent them. She explained how corporate entities handle such cases and how long they take to solve them. The abusers rely on the concept of shame that is culturally ingrained in us, she said. Thus, the normalising of discussions on sexuality are the need of the hour, she said.