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April 30, 2014

Quick Notes on 'The Bad Touch'

Author : Payal Shah Karwa
Publisher : Hay House India

Rating : 3 / 5

The Bad touch - The true story of Harish Iyer and other thrivers of child sex abuse is a disturbing, yet enlightening stories about survivors of child sex abuse. Primarily focusing on Harish Iyer, an award winning social activist who first shared his disturbing story of his sexual abuse on the television show Satyamev Jayate and who gave voice to the issue when most would be silent.

Half of the book concentrates on his story - his background, how he was first abused and how it continued over the years, how he first decided to say no and confront his abuser and how he was able to finally overcome it. His story is ironic and horrifying in equal measures, he is castigated by society; his own father believes Harish to be at fault, his sexual orientation constantly linked to his abuse as a child and a lonely solo battle to help other sufferers like himself. It is tough journey and the author tries to bring this in as detail as possible within the realms of non-fiction book.

There are others noted film director Anurag Khashyap, a victim of incest and sexual abuse, not once but many times over. Jai, living in a Mumbai high rise suffers abuse and a now 34-year-old mother who suffered sexual abuse as a 12 year old. Nidhi, who is raped within premises of a Catholic school by a peon and how school authorities try and curb the matter. Story of Lata who is abused by her own uncle during the days when her mother is pregnant and many more.

But keeping the noble intentions aside on this important topic, the book is exacting with under narrative at numerous places, yet giving over-worked wordplay and clunky descriptions. The book (apart from Harish's Story) is not overtly graphic in its sexual abuse scenes which takes away from some of its effect of the crime. It was also surprising to see no story from a female sexual abuser, which even though less prevalent is still important. It leads to a dangerous, indirect conclusion about only male abusers which i am sure was not the intention of the writer.

Having said that, all the stories in the book will shock, horrify, sadden, repulse and numb the readers. But underlying them is the small ray of hope that if the immediate family is sensitive enough to the signals a child may send out, he or she may be rescued from being victimized. This book is a mission to help ebb the trauma of survivors and inspire them to create awareness of the issue of child sex abuse amongst parents/guardians.

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