Paraphilia, Sikkim, and Self-Love

Paraphilia, Sikkim, and Self-Love

In a month that is most famous for love, it seems only fair to delve deeper into why it has and always holds significant importance since the time the Greeks conceptualized and categorized various forms of that emotion that almost 80% of the songs in the world are about and why between 2001 and 2017, murders in the name of love increased by 28% in India.  

If one were to chronologically study the timeline of the birth of the idea of love, it is pertinent to go back to the era of the Greeks. Since human reasoning and human sentience was realised, great thinkers have always studied different schools of thought and material and recorded them, ancient Greeks were prominent in the field of philosophy. They studied everything from public speaking to the stars in the universe, and love is something they were also fascinated with. Ancient Greeks had been philosophically deeply engaging towards finding meaning in Love and according to them, there are 8 types of Love.

They are Agape — Unconditional Love; Eros — Romantic Love; Philia — Affectionate Love; Philautia — Self-love; Storge — Familiar Love; Pragma — Enduring Love; Ludus — Playful Love and Mania — Obsessive Love.

These were the types of love, according to the ancient minds who spent their time in an environment devoid of the technology and the Internet of today that gives an excess of information which floods and clogs the mind with an intellectually and personally irrelevant feed of all kinds. This leads to people taking drastic measures to find detachment and escape from the plethora of information floating around in the Internet and media’s cloud.

In Sikkimese society, talking from the general public point of view and of living, we do not pay heed to these facts and records, and the thought process behind it, or at least the masses don’t, and as we have reached the presumably penultimate era of advancements, Sikkim is tending to get destructive in its course. With more cases of crime and socially ill behaviour in the past decade, with more cases of domestic violence and marital rapes (mostly hushed out because of the societal duties and a feigned facade of righteousness to archaic traditions), cases of rapes and violence between proximal peers, possible hate crimes, and a lot of passion related crimes; Sikkim is, unfortunately, steering towards ugly.

The reasons are a plethora of different discernible traits and cultural traditions that Sikkimese people have been exposed to till today’s age. One of them is the tradition of veiling out the possibility of discussing one’s innermost demons and ugliest thoughts and failing to recognise that everyone has that corner of evil thoughts. The world isn’t innocent anymore because of the Internet and the failure of restrictions on the information that circulates in it, but then it is a fundamental right violation to restrict or filter information, so it comes to the people to talk about thoughts.

This is also universal, to hide out the parts of the mind that seem ugly, an example might be the thought of a 39-year-old man of having an intimate relationship with one’s 13-year-old stepdaughter.

The news, in an SC report, reads: 

“Geyzing, February 12: A 39 years old person, a native of West Sikkim has been arrested by the Kaluk Police Station on Tuesday on the charges of sexual assault on his own 13 years old minor daughter. The accused has been booked under section 376 of IPC and section 6 of Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) act 2012. The case came to light when the victim complained of being sick and her elder sister took her to Primary Health Centre (PHSC) where she was found to be pregnant. The victim was later on taken to the district hospital, Geyzing for further medical examination and she tested positive for pregnancy. The PHSC authority then informed the Kaluk Police Station about the matter and the accused was arrested based on FIR filed by the relatives of the victim. The victim was later on taken to the district hospital, Geyzing for further medical examination where she tested positive for pregnancy.

Additional Superintendent of Police (West) PVG Satish informed that the accused has been sent to 15 days judicial custody and the case is under investigation.”

Till the case is not shut there’s obscurity if the man had raped the 13-year-old if it was consensual, either way, this is a heinous crime on the part of the adult. These days it is evident all over social media of how the graphics called memes are shared, some of them are utterly disturbing pornographic memes, hints of sexually aggravating content is also seen along with vulgar, obscene and violent content. The demographic that also share these memes are seen to be teenagers and even pre-teens as well, this knowledge that kids already possessed can be used by wicked people take advantage of the kids and scar them for life, or worse. Since vulgarity and evil are already present in the world for us to easily access knowledge to, preparation of discourses and dialogues to educate the masses is important. 

According to the data extrapolated from NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) and NCBI (National Centre for Biotechnology Information), Indian Medical Journals; children, under the age of 18, contribute to 37% of India’s population with large proportions experiencing great deprivations such as lack of access to basic education, nutrition or health care. Besides, they are susceptible to different forms of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) including various forms of abuse, neglect, and maltreatment with child protection remaining largely unaddressed. A large-scale national study conducted in 2007 by Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD), to assess the extent and nature of child abuse in India, uncovered some alarming statistics; that among the 12,447 children interviewed, more than half (53 per cent) reported experience of sexual abuse, defined as “sexual assault, making the child fondle private parts, making the child exhibit private body parts and being photographed in the nude” and over 20 per cent reported severe sexual abuse. 

While these statistics need to be interpreted with caution as it was conducted inconvenience rather than a nationally representative sample, the numbers speak to the significance of the problem and highlight particularly high-risk groups. In percentage terms, major crime heads, under ‘Crime Against Children’ during 2017 which is the latest from the NCRB records, were kidnapping & abduction (42.0%) and cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (25.3%) including child rape. Smaller studies from India have also reported a very high prevalence of CSA. Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is a pressing human right issue and public health concern; this is an issue of high relevance when it comes to mental health issue tying up with paedophilic crimes.

The prevalence of CSA ranged from 4%- 41% in studies conducted exclusively among young women below 18 years of age and who are current students while the studies reported a lifetime CSA prevalence of 3–39% among women above 18 years of age. There was a much wider range of CSA prevalence (4%- 57%) reported among boys in educational institutions. One-third of the study sample of adolescent street boys reported forced intercourse, while almost a quarter of the study sample of men who have sex with men (MSMs) reported experiencing contact sexual abuse with or without forced penetration during childhood.

The studies also reported variations in prevalence estimates when they included all forms of CSA (contact, non-contact, and forced intercourse). For example, 35% prevalence of any form of CSA was reported in the age group 15–19 in one study as opposed to 4% among young girls in the age range 12 years to 16 years when CSA was specified as “sexual abuse” in general. The prevalence estimates of CSA experiences reported among select populations like sex trafficked girls and women ranged from 4% to 66%.

The social-ecological model guided the emergence of determinants of CSA as one of the themes in the synthesis of qualitative data across studies. The synthesis suggests that CSA is a multifaceted phenomenon grounded in the interplay between individual, family, community, and societal factors. The patriarchal societal norms and power differentials in such societies based on class, gender, and sexual preferences emerged as common descriptive themes that increased the risks of CSA across the qualitative studies on CSWs and MSM. Individual factors like poor socio-economic status, death of a parent or husband, and being born to a commercial sex worker were descriptive themes that emerged as pathways to be initiated in commercial sex work and resultant CSA experiences for minor girls that had been trafficked. 

Early childhood experience of CSA was also documented as a risk factor for re-victimization as well as initiation into commercial sex work. Lack of proper family support, family and personal history of mental health pathology, and pathological family exposures to sexual images were some of the other potential risk factors that emerged in the review. Lack of sanitation and poor safety of women were also found to be community-level factors that increased the risks for CSA from the review of qualitative studies. There were conflicting results in the review of quantitative studies regarding age, gender, family structure (joint vs. nuclear family), and monthly family income as covariates of CSA. However negative perception about parents, lower education of mother, and perceived congeniality of family were found to be significantly associated with CSA experience. Domestic child labourers were also found to be at higher risk of all forms of abuse including CSA in one study.

The studies conducted among the community sample indicated that the abused children know perpetrators of CSA in India, and many of them are family members.

The qualitative synthesis of studies that included perpetration as a sphere of enquiry suggests that multiple factors at individual, family, and societal levels play a significant role in the perpetration of CSA. The offenders, often known to the victims, take advantage of their accessibility to potential victims and with lack of severe punishment by family members and protective nature of the family members towards the abuser, often lead to the incident getting unreported. However, studies that included adolescent boys as samples reported a higher percentage of perpetration by strangers as compared to adolescent girls. 

The synthesis of data from qualitative studies conducted among MSMs indicated that these perpetrators may be older boys or other men in power like the police. A qualitative study among adolescents in our review indicates pathological family atmosphere with precocious exposures to sexual behaviours and sexual acts, traumatic sexual experiences in childhood, sexual interests and exploration, deprivation and failure in romantic relationships, and young boys who have been coerced into homosexual acts are at increased risk of becoming young sexual offenders. Gender inequitable norms were found to be significantly associated with CSA perpetration in a study on evaluation of an intervention to promote gender equality among adolescent boys. However, we need to exercise caution with concluding the determinants of perpetration considering the limited number of studies that evaluated the associations, cross-sectional and qualitative study designs, and small sample size of these studies.

The health outcomes of CSA can be grouped into mental health, physical health, behavioural and interpersonal. The studies, both quantitative and qualitative, reported high risks for psychiatric disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorders, suicidal behaviours and depression. The victims of CSA were also found to have increased risks for temperamental problems, poor social adjustment, lack of trust, and insecure relations with parents.

 Lower academic performance was also associated with reporting CSA in one study. Only one quantitative study evaluated the associations between increased risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and CSA. The studies suggest that sexually trafficked women and MSMs involved in commercial sex work and had experienced CSA also report the high prevalence and risk behaviours for HIV infection. However, their HIV status in this study could be an outcome of sex work rather than the experience of CSA itself.

 Increased attention in the public discourse and activism around child protection led to the Government of India passing the ‘The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO)’ law in 2012. This act criminalizes a range of acts including rape, harassment, and exploitation for pornography involving a child below 18 years of age and mandates the setting up of Special Courts to expedite trials of these offences. However, the issue of CSA remains a taboo in India. As around the world, the research findings in India support significant underreporting of CSA to authorities versus reporting in protected research settings. Only 3% of CSA offences uncovered by a national-level study in 2007 were reported to the authorities. Renuka Chowdhury, the then minister of women and child development, in her introduction to this national survey report of MoWCD, referred CSA as “shrouded in secrecy with a conspiracy of silence around the entire subject”.

 “In hospitals, people don’t turn up to treat paraphilia, in Sikkim in the five years I have been here only one person suffering from paraphilia, or at least who had this idea has come”, shares Dr Shijo John Joseph, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences .

Further, he adds, “For us paraphilia, even in the extreme form, is a disease and purely disorders, and we treat it that way, there is a cure but the cure is complicated, it is not just medicine but a lot of therapy and counselling as well, the lone case that I saw was of a person who took sexual gratification in smelling used sanitary napkins, his brother brought him to the OPD.”

Paraphilia is a disease that is rare to hear about and this makes people take sexual gratification in things which are out of ordinary, the person that Dr. Joseph talked about had become a nuisance in the locality that he stayed as he was mostly out fishing for used sanitary napkins, and the case was building up to be more psychotic, so much so, that he would predict the period dates of ladies around his area.

“Self-care is one of the ways that can help get insight on what paraphilic people go through as that gives an understanding of what they are going through as that begets guilt and if the person is from a certain society or a religious background they’ll feel even more guilty. It certainly helps, the discussions and venting out to other people, as it can calm them down but ultimately it is not a medical treatment”, educates Dr Joseph.

In India, there haven’t been many scientific types of research and concrete scientific data contrary to criminal data have not been pertinent about paraphilia in India, and in Sikkim, there has been none, one of the best researches as Dr Joseph informed Sikkim Chronicle was a research by Dr T.S. Sathyanarayan Rao, Professor of Psychiatry, JSS Medical College, Mysore. The research was named as an epidemiological study of sexual disorders in the South Indian Rural population and was published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry. It found no paraphilia in the population in a village in Karnataka, it may be because people did not admit to having any signs or tendencies, and this data was contradicted by the data in the Crime Bureau, which had records of crimes, which were paraphilic.

“Paraphilia is not be considered as a crime as such, it is a disorder, for social norms people will consider as a crime, definitely; there are people whose disorders become psychotic, obsessive, schizophrenic and compulsive in nature and their impulses become their driving force as they take a backseat. They will not have any insight into their thoughts whatsoever; such people can be proven innocent in court as a mentally sick person”, Dr. Joseph tells Sikkim Chronicle.

Furthermore, he concludes, “The best thing is, if there are people who are having paraphilic thoughts in the communities can always look for counselling and discussions, because many times these thoughts can be of obsessive manner and the person holding the thoughts may be extremely guilty, and if they come to a doctor with these thoughts, a heinous crime can be prevented.”

It is high time that Sikkimese society starts speaking about sex, puberty, sexuality, anatomy, and emotions which again is an intrinsic chemical working, so when it is broken down, there is a table of contents that can be explained to the masses and the whole spectrum of demographic present in Sikkim from kids to teenagers (who need it the most) to old people living in remote parts of Sikkim.

It is incumbent for people to recognise their thought processes and recognise the things that they pick up subconsciously as well as consciously, which is also the first step of mental health care. Introspection, recognition, dialogues, and discourses are important to rid of polluting thoughts that may be harmful to the mind.

Paraphilia, which includes paedophilia, nymphomania or hypersexuality and other compulsive sexual behaviours, is a mental disorder and the society needs to pick on cues and realise the potential harm that can be caused or that they can cause and talk about it before it causes any irreversible damage to another innocent person. This act of self-awareness can also be related to Philautia or self-love. Love towards oneself then begets kindness, and one act of kindness done is another abominable act of cruelty stopped.