New book, ‘Good Touch Bad Touch’, unpacks sexual abuse awareness for children
Having worked on raising awareness on child abuse for the past six years, Habiba Hasin's new book, Good Touch Bad Touch (Addhayan Prokashoni, 2021), is Bangladesh's first comprehensive book on children's training and awareness against mental and physical abuse. Good Touch Bad Touch, written in Bangla, is a 30-page book filled with stories, illustrations, and charts that are designed to be emotionally interactive for parents and their children; the prose comprises bedtime stories that seek to clarify how a child can identify abuse. The illustrations used in the book were collected from unDraw and Freepik.
Hasin has shared stories from her own life in an attempt to navigate the sensitive nature of the topic. "In one particular chapter, I explain how not knowing about one's belly button can be dangerous. This simple story is enough to make people ponder about the safety of other parts of their body", she told The Daily Star.
Through this book, Hasin wishes to extend courage to both children and their parents while eradicating the social norms of politeness and prejudice exploited by predators to abuse young children. It intends to begin an educational process that allows people to be more aware about their body autonomy. Hasin has attempted to teach a vocabulary specifically designated to "bad touch". "I've provided multiple illustrations in the book to identify which [forms of physical contact] are bad and what words a child can use to signal to their parents", she explained
The decision to write Good Touch Bad Touch stemmed from Hasin's experience of working with children in schools. "I would go to schools with my identity card, show my credentials and request the teachers to let me conduct a short, casual session with the students", she shares. "Sometimes I would also gather street children and talk to them, urging them to memorise emergency contact numbers". Hasin has visited more than 40 schools including ones situated in the slums of Mirpur, Gazipur, Gulshan, and a few government-operated schools.
Soon, she realised that she had been doing only a portion of the job. Unless parents are as aware as their children, nothing would change. She also began receiving calls from children who had attended her sessions and shared their experiences of abuse. "They would call me and say how bad they'd felt [about] someone's touch, and how they cannot express this to their families. This happened multiple times, until I decided to write a book that would initiate these conversations at home", Hasin said.
She has plans of creating similar content in English, depending on the demand. Since more people need to be educated on the concept, the author is trying to reach out to authorities in educational institutions and corporate spaces who would like to accommodate the book in their libraries and lounges.
"People have wholeheartedly accepted the initiative. I anticipated a positive outcome, but the response has been very encouraging", Hasin said.
Maisha Islam Monamee is a freelance journalist who likes reading, planning, and scribbling. Follow @monameereads on Instagram.