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Crying alone, nightmares, fear to face the world without showing scars on your soul and sometimes on the body as well, fear of someone finding out the truth, fear to be alone and fear to be taken advantage of; this is how a sexually abused child lives his/her whole life. Child sexual abuse is a worldwide issue of concern that is increasing day by day. In our country, this issue is very much prevalent and present but is a taboo that cannot be discussed openly.
One of the main problems in tackling child sexual abuse is, getting an acknowledgment of its existence, but for most Pakistanis, this is a taboo subject. We live in a country where people find talking about sex and sexuality shameful. Good people simply don’t want to talk about it. It is thought to be inappropriate that we talk about anything remotely sexual in nature with our parents, children, students. It is something forbidden to be discussed in our traditional society because it is believed that nothing like child sexual abuse can happen in our so called “Islamic society” that shuns such heinous acts.
We can understand the degree of seriousness of our society on the issue of child sexual abuse with the fact that we do not have even a single law against this act and there is no visible effort done to counter the crimes related to child sexual abuse. According to a recent article in Express Tribune, the reports published by the United Nations state that the issue of child sexual abuse, a widespread problem in Pakistan, is on the rise at alarmingly rate because it has been left largely unchecked due to its “sensitive nature”.
Before indulging into the topic we have to get an idea of what exactly is child sexual abuse and what are its different stages or types. Child sexual abuse is any act in which a child is victimized or exploited sexually by an elder. The sexual activity in the child sexual abuse can be forced as well as the children can be lured into the sexual activity by bribing them or sweet-talk them. The child sexual abusers are known as PEDOPHILES.
These monsters abuse a child and do not have even the slightest remorse to cross the thresholds of the innocent children in fact, according to the experts who study the abusers suggest that the abusers mostly believe that their victim enjoys the act as much as they do.
Child sexual abuse can include acts of sexual advances, forcible kissing, exposure to pornographic material, taking nude pictures of a child, forcing a child to exhibit his or her private body parts, touching or fondling a child, assault, rape, sodomy etc.
One of the misjudged fact about child sexual abuse is that it is not prevalent in our society and our children are safe from it. This notion is utterly wrong because our Pakistani society is also among the list of those societies where children are sexually abused daily and in huge numbers.
Another misunderstood notion about child sexual abuse in our society is that the people who sexually abuse children are unknown people and the children and family do not know them. According to the reports repeatedly coming on this issue nearly 78% of the abusers are relatives or known associates. Cruel Numbers Report suggests that 51% of the cases of child sexual abuse took place within the four walls of the house of the victims or abusers.
The dilemma in this issue is that mostly parents whether educated or uneducated are negligent in this regard and do not accept that their child can be sexually abused, thus living in their own sanctuary cocoon of reality which is not truly real.
Child sexual abuse has a number of psychological effects on the victims. According to the psychiatrists, the victims have serious trust issues; they have a problem trusting anyone. There are cases in which victims start blaming themselves for what happened to them and this situation if prevails, can lead to the use of drugs or suicidal behavior. Children, who are sexually abused, can have serious mood swings and they tend to have liked for being isolated from the crowd.
In addition to all this, sexually abused children can develop a fear of people, fear to be left alone, and fear of dark, nightmares, anxiety and anger. When I interviewed a psychologist, she told me that “The child mostly looses his/her self-confidence. The time, at which the child sexual abuse is done, the victim is not mature enough to comprehend the severity of the situation completely. But, with the passage of time, as the child matures, the reality of what has happened to him/her becomes clear and the mental trauma becomes severe.
The nagging at the back of the mind does not allow the child to be 100% normal human being. Apparently, the child seems functioning properly, but no one but the child knows about the storm brewing within. The sleepless nights, the psychological fits of self-doubt, the lack of self-confidence, they are all the problems that a child has to go through the whole life, mostly alone.
In order to save our children from becoming the victims of child sexual abuse, the responsibility falls heavily on the shoulders of the parents. Parents should develop a trusting relationship with their children in the way that the children can confide in them anything they want on any topic, without the fear of being blamed. Parent-child trust is the most important to avoid anything like this.
Parents should also keep a keen eye on the people with whom their children spend time and should keep an eye for the unwanted attention paid by anyone to their child. Parents should also educate their children about the importance of negating any inappropriate advances by anyone and they should also teach their children about keeping their body safe from others. Parents should supervise their children’s activities as much as possible and be attentive to their children.
As far as the question about the treatment of the victims is concerned, according to the Psychiatrist: “the parents should encourage the child who was sexually abused to share with them as much as he/she wants and trust the parents. Reassure your child that whatever happened was never his/her fault. Make sure that your child gets the proper mental or psychological therapy so that the abuse cannot become a hindrance in his/ her life.
As a society, we have to accept first that this problem is present in society and then educate the masses to avoid such happenings and educate the children as well as the parents to identify such sick behavior and take appropriate measures against those mentally sick people who rob off innocence from children. Better and more appropriate legal system and laws are also direly needed to eradicate this monster.