A child is sexually abused in India every 15 minutes. As many as 53 per cent of boys and 47 per cent of girls in the population have faced sexual abuse at some point in their life and 97 per cent of attackers are known and trusted by the victims, according to Kabir Maan, a 30-year-old transgender man and a gender-issues educator.
There is no vaccine for this sexual abuse epidemic. The legal help arrives only after the heinous act. Kabir feels that education is the only medicine. He has made more than 15,000 children aware about child sex abuse, menstruation health, and sex education in the past three years. He has worked with NGOs, government, and private schools, and also with people in night shelters, slums, and even those living under flyovers.
Kabir finished his teachers training and a diploma in journalism from Jamia Milia Islamia. He taught in a government school and also worked as a music therapist. He found his vocation at an NGO named ‘Parwarish’.
“The programme was called ‘Aao Baat karein’ and at the age of 25, it was the first time I had sex education in my life,” Kabir recollects. The training he received for the programme and from the experience of conducting sessions, he gained clarity about his gender identity as well. He learned being a transgender person.
Kabir says, “The taboo associated with this subject makes it difficult for parents and even teachers to talk about it. All the while the children exposed to the abuse are scarred for life. We need to stop covering up the abuse first.”
Kabir has lost count of the number of times children trusted him with their sexual abuse stories. He contacted the child helpline and registered a complaint every time, but nothing happened because the parents stepped in and forced children to retract their statements.
A powerful activity he uses in his sessions is the ‘NO’ exercise. The teachers and the children are taught to shout ‘NO’ at the top of their voices when they feel sexually threatened. “It jolts the victim out of shock, and might even scare the attacker away,” he explains.