In the East Indian culture, sex doesn’t happen. Yeah, right. Childhood sexual abuse? Double, yeah right. Reality is: These things do happen. They just aren’t talked about.
To an outsider, this tidbit of information may be surprising. After all, Indian women showcase their sexy midriffs via short sari blouses. Bollywood movies are jam-packed with provocative dance numbers. Better yet, India boasts one of the world’s highest populations. So, what’s up with all the secrecy?
“Dirty” subjects just aren’t talked about. Family honor is not only demanded, but considered empowering for the unit involved. Speaking against your relatives not only makes you a repulsive black sheep, but also a despicable ingrate. Admitting you’re not a virgin–or at the very least physically untouched—by marriage limits your marital prospects.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Not every Indian family on this beautiful green planet feels this way. I’m referring to ultra traditional folks. Progressive, enlightened individuals know that childhood sexual abuse is never a kid’s fault. Speaking about it isn’t disgusting, but rather healing. It’s really all this “secrecy” that keeps the evil wheels of childhood sexual abuse turning. It’s time we put a stop to this.
This is precisely why I wrote my children’s picture book, “Reena’s Bollywood Dream: A Story About Sexual Abuse.” Currently, there are no other childhood sexual abuse books featuring a South Asian character out in the market. Which is surprisingly, considering how often childhood sexual abuse happens.Over the years, I’ve been blessed with many close relationships with female South Asian family members and friends. Think: Indian. Think: Pakistani. Think: Bangladeshi. And, the list goes on. These women have confided in me time-and-time again. Sometimes, about boy crushes. Sometimes, about crazy co-workers. Sometimes, about childhood sexual abuse. Shockingly, all of these brazen, successful women never spoke up. Apart from me, nobody knows their story. Not even a therapist.
“Reena’s Bollywood Dream: A Story About Sexual Abuse” is all about giving childhood sexual abuse current victims and post survivor’s a voice. It’s to admit that, yes, sexual abuse does happen in multicultural households, too. It’s a story about prevention. It’s a story about hope. It’s a story for YOU.