Sunday, May 3, 2015

Book Review: The Silent Scream

The Silent Scream is one of those books that you don't want to read initially, if you're anything like me, but that make you feel glad you decided to read anyway. There are too many issues out there that no one wants to talk about which makes authors of issue-based books a brave lot. But not all issue based books are commendable just because they talk about something no one is comfortable with. Very few are such cases in which people take up a sensitive issue and do justice to it without resorting to sensationalism. This book is one such rare gem.

Being a student of Clinical Psychology I am required to read many volumes, academic and non-academic, on various kinds of trauma. Hence, when I read something out of my course's recommended reading list, I avoid stuff related to mental health. When Siddharth Garg approached me for a review of his book, I almost denied the request only to delete the draft and send another mail saying I'll be happy to review the book. What made my almost-no to a yes was the curiosity to find out how much the author had lived up to his promise of the book being "a ready guide to create awareness about this rampantly growing evil". Sure the book had a few case studies but it also had a section on answering questions, busting myths, providing simple guidelines etc. and it was the latter that drew me in. 

The Silent Scream, a very apt title, is based on child sexual abuse (CSA) and begins with an account of a very typical CSA. Several stories follow, each exposing a certain 'type' of CSA and busting a certain myth regarding various aspects related to CSA. The attempt is clearly there to not brush anything under the carpet, for which I congratulate the author, as it speaks volumes about his comfort level with the issue, but there is never a whiff of any attempt to raise goosebumps by going over unnecessary details at the cost of losing out on sensitive  telling of the stories. The author has captured several things about the characters in his case studies, not falling prey to the amateur's mistake of letting the case study revolve around the 'issue' only. I can't stress this point enough- Siddharth Garg has loads and loads of sensitivity and it oozes out of every line in the book. 

The latter half was more to my interest and pleasantly surprised me with not just how comprehensive it was but how well researched all the chapters were. The following are some of the chapter titles in the second half of the book: Rape and its types, Who are these Perpetrators, Signs of Danger, Why people abuse children sexually, Silence : The Biggest Encouragement, The Repercussion, The Constitution of India, Must Do’s for Parents and Children, A Note for Survivors, Way to Heal and Helplines. It was great to see that the author's voice was gradually coming along like a neutral voice, talking about the perpetrators' minds as well, without turning into a rapist-apologist or a pedophile-apologist for a single moment. The subject matter covered is thorough and has my approval and I daresay, this is more than just a book. That the author is passionate about the issue is easy to tell. He is emphatic in his pleas to stop giving implicit encouragement to the perpetrators of this heinous crime by maintaining silence and provides a great ending to his book by giving us a glimpse into his heartfelt genuineness in his involvement with this issue. Here goes:

If you know something is wrong and there is nothing being done against it, report it to someone and if you are afraid to report it publically, you can also write it to me anonymously and I will make sure that your concern is raised to the local government officials. Also, in case you are not satisfied with the law enforcements that we have for the children in our country and have some better suggestions (which are not biased and are in favour of the whole nation); please feel free to write them to me. We will collect all the suggestions that come across and will send them to the government demanding for an action on the same. You can feel free to write to me on

“The world is a dangerous place to live in, not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
 - Albert Einstein

Wow! Had the author not approached me with a request to read and review this book, I would never have picked it up, unless of course it was a part of my course recommended readings, but I'm really glad I did end up reading it. Its a must read for parents of small children and all the people who work closely with children, be it teachers or social workers or other social protection professionals. It is not an academic tome and is an easy read but offers plenty of information and insight into Child Sexual Abuse. As a person who can say with some authority that CSA is more prevalent in our society than we care to admit, I highly recommend this book to all. Don't fear a few goosebumps and chills down your spine; its totally worth all that. 

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