first the rant

Standard

ok.
we drove down abour 200 kms to pondy to hurry our vacation over — we finished day 2 and day 3 of vacation in a pondyblur. #utbthowareyoudoing

but.

when we went to the jawahar bal bhavan to entertain our boys, i stumbled on to the child sexual harassment bomb ticking away…

this is what happens. ma’s friend who lives in pondicherry for the last 28 years filled in some of the blanks …

the auto drivers of pondicherry have sorta evolved this into a tradition.
apparently on the last day of the school holidays, the autodriver ‘uncle’ takes the girls — these are children on his regular school pickup and drop — for a joyride. he takes them to the park or a beach, and the wholetime the children are unsupervised by other adults or parents.

my ma’s friend says she has seen autodrivers on the beach ‘misbehave’ with the girls… and the school children, between 8 and 12 years old, seldom protest, since the autodriver is an adult they trust.

the logic is this…

1. since he is being paid for the school holidays, two months salary — so this is a treat that he gives. he buys the kids crisps, soda and cookies from his salary.
and takes them in his auto to a ‘fun’ place.

2. but schoolboys are never taken on such a joyride by autodrivers, says ma’s friend.

this is what i saw…

1. the auto chappie took the girls on the toy train
2. he played a whispering game — where he whispered a secret into everyone of their ears.
3. he gave them juice when they said they were thirsty.
4. they were going to play hide and seek next, the girls said.
5. don’t you girls want to go home, he asked. no uncle we want to play, they chorused.
6. the bal bhavan is an isolated kind of place… it’s the middle of the week.

on the one hand, there might be the genuine avuncular auto driver. taking the girl for a friendly ride … it’s unfair to paint all men black.

but the tradition, i think, is a completely unecessary one…

ma, who came with me, was furious the whole time. ”i brought up a daughter. and i certainly wouldnt send her on this if she was under 10 years old. i wonder if the parents have any idea about what is hapenning…”

you see what i saw …

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14 responses »

  1. Speechless. Can the parents be this ignorant and trusting? They need to be taught about good touch – bad touch first. Breaks my heart when I think about the risks the girls are put through.

  2. Jeez! that is definitely scary…even if the rick uncle is a good man who genuinely wants to take the kids for fun, I dont think I will allow my daughter..its too much of a risk….I cant imagine its not come in anyone’s mind to question this..and dont the boys fight for their share of fun?

  3. Holy cow! I don’t think the parents are realizing what is happening. I hope that they do and soon too – The not taking boys along should be a clue. Here these pictures are presenting the idea clearly.

  4. wow, this is scary and you have the evidence to prove it. Where are the frikkin’ parents? Aren’t the kids supposed to return home by a certain time? and if they don’t isn’t that a red flag right there? do the school authorities know? even if the ‘uncle’ is a good man, anything can happen! sorry for pounding you with the bazillion questions.I am usually a lurker- too lazy to comment but this one, I couldn’t resist.

  5. Ada kadavuley, what clueless parents these are, don’t these people read the newspapers? Do they not know that (some) rickshaw uncles and driver uncles actually take advantage of their children? i just hope they realize this and put an end to all this joyriding before they’re made aware the hard way.

    • makes me think all this talk about ‘awareness’ is only for the metro cities — where the msg is already loud and clear

  6. OMG THAT IS TOO SCARY.
    A couple of nights ago, I had a nightmare that my kid was lost, I woke up in panic and sobbing. I rushed to her room, carried her back to our bed, and we lay squished up together. All three of us woke up with a backache, but seriously, I freaked out.
    This post is going to give me nightmares again.

    • actually, lg, we are ‘aware’ parents — we know what to do, how to raise ‘aware’ children thanks to the media which has hugely helped in hitting home this campaign.

      so we have crossed the bridge in one sense…

      my grandma’s thumb rule is that children should be always playing in a spot ”where their mum can see them” period.

      what hit me at pondy was that this ‘awareness’ hasn’t seeped to india’s smaller but educated pockets…

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