Do you know about MAPs? No, I am not talking about geographical identities. A MAP (Minor Attracted Persons) is, in fact, a rebranding Paedophiles are trying to give themselves. Yes, these are people who are attracted to children below the age of consent. MAP as a community, openly admits to having sexual feelings towards underage children and wish to normalise this so-called attraction. MAPs argue that they should not be villainized as long as their attraction is not acted upon, or in some cases where they have consent from the child. Did a shiver just run down your spine?
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Won’t rebranding MAPs normalize child sexual abuse? Psychology Today defines, Pedophilia as “recurrent and intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children—generally age 13 years or younger—over a period of at least six months”. MAP is not a sexual identity. Giving them a politically correct name will not make the act less offending.
Here are some things to ponder:
- The perpetrator of child sexual abuse is almost always someone known to the family – a relative or a friend.
- Studies suggest that children who feel uncared for or lonely may be at higher risk for sexual abuse.
- According to the data by the National Crime Record Bureau, around 109 children were sexually abused every day in India in 2018, which is a 22 per cent jump in such cases from the previous year.
- According to the recently released NCRB data, 32,608 cases were reported in 2017 while 39,827 cases were reported in 2018 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).
I just thought of the scene from Alia Bhatt’s Highway where she speaks about how she was sexually abused by her uncle as a child. And when she reported the trauma to her mother, measures were taken to stop the act but the incident is never addressed, or no one stood by her side calling out the perpetrator or telling her that she was not at fault for what happened. Sexual abuse, molestation and rape bring in shame not just for the individual but for the entire family, and our culture tends to suppress such information in the name of upholding family honour. Think of such a behaviour getting legitimized and the trepidation with which the survivors will have to live in?
MAP is not a sexual identity. Giving them a politically correct name will not make the act less offending.
Remember the Blue Whale Challenge which led so many kids to commit suicide? That is how easy it is to manipulate young brains. Underage consent is problematic, how do you know that the adult in the dynamic has not manipulated the consent. How aware are children about sexual perversions? Remember the creepy Tej uncle from film Monsoon Wedding? Who first preys on Ria and then on Alia? Towards the end of the film the little girl Alia says, “I know all about kissing. It’s gross, you open your mouth and he sticks his tongue in. Ya, don’t you know that is how older people kiss.” Alia is a prepubescent girl, in her comment we know how much she has detested the experience she went through, even if you argue that she was initially allured at the prospect of being part of an adult experience by her predator. Can children put the trauma of a physical abuse behind them and live their lives? In the same film, we have another character Ria who had been exploited in the same way by the same person as a child, and we know how that abuse has scared her permanently.
Underage consent is problematic, how do you know that the adult in the dynamic has not manipulating the consent.
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In the face of an untoward incident, an underage child is too young to understand the gravity of what is happening and often at loss of words as to how to express themselves and seek help. That is why we have a cut off age for consent. Several researches have shown that our brain remodels intensively after hitting puberty, and the process continues till our mid-20s. So, can underage kids give informed consent? Often when we face abuse, we tend to downplay the experience, because no one wants to get singled out. But it is vital to recognise abuse and that it can come in any form, shape or size. Children need to be protected and it is our responsibility as adults to give them a safe world. Yes, we are all for diversity and inclusion but not by sacrificing innocent childhoods.
Picture Credit: STP
The views expressed are the author’s own.