Panaji: Thirteen–year–old Rahul (name changed) could well be one of hundreds of children in Goa, full of dreams and hopes. But, sexual abuse by a neighbour, and testing positive for HIV has clouded the lad’s plans for the future.
Rahul, a shy smile upon his young face, reveals that his abuser was a smooth–talking neighbour, who lured him with bike rides, money and sweets and then abused him. If Rahul complained, he would be threatened. The illicit liaison, that included brutality, lasted from May to early September this year, when Rahul fell ill and tests revealed he was HIV positive.
That was when Rahul’s father lodged a complaint on October 31 with the women and child protection unit alleging that his minor son had been sexually abused by a neighbour.
The accused was arrested and tests at the Goa Medical College and Hospital for STD showed that the accused was HIV positive.
“We are really hurt. Who could have imagined that a known person would actually abuse our child and threaten him. My son’s innocence has been ruined and his life destroyed,” said the boy’s father, who had heard of HIV/AIDS but knew no details about the virus until his son tested positive for it.
“I had heard about HIV but never cared to know much as I never thought that someone in my family could be infected,” the father said.
Even as the family is beginning to cope with this knowledge, they fear their son may be kidnapped by the abuser or even abused further.
“While we suffer and live in fear, the accused is out on bail,” said the boy’s father. The children’s court released the accused on bail, which has been challenged in the high court of Bombay at Goa by the state. The appeal will be heard this week.
The family of the 13–year–old boy who was sexually abused by his neighbour now fears discrimination against the lad.
“At present many sympathize, though a few do taunt. We are scared to let Rahul (name changed) play alone, lest he be stigmatized or kidnapped. None of his friends
call him to play. He is an excellent cook, but we don’t allow him to cook as we are scared that he may cut his finger. We don’t want to risk his life or anyone else’s,” the father says.
But Rahul doesn’t understand the fuss around him. He admits he feels angry, sad, scared and anxious, but he wants to play, cook and do exactly as he did before. “I want to play like other boys but my family members tell me that I should rest. I like to meet my friends and talk with them. But no one comes to play or talk with me. The only time I meet them is in school,” added Rahul, who goes along with his father and returns with him once classes are over.
For Rahul, life is not all about hope and belief, but about the will to live and live “Normally”. “I am fine. I just want to study, play and live,” he added.