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Bibi took her to a local hospital in Rawalpindi. She was 12 years old. She could barely walk due to vaginal infection. They were staying at my Nani’s place. The doctor told Bibi that the twelve-year-old was now no more a virgin. Bibi couldn’t believe her ears. Bibi started doubting her twelve-year-old. Instead of asking she started smacking her. Twelve years old was afraid, silently shedding tears.
She didn’t have words to justify herself. My grandmother requested Bibi to ask at least once what actually happened. Twelve-year-old was so shocked she didn’t speak for hours. After hours she finally spoke up.What she revealed was even more disgusting and disturbing. Her father was raping her for months. From few months, he was abusing her on daily basis. She was too young to resist and bear, which resulted in dire vaginal infection.
Bibi decided to fight for her daughter. They returned home. She decided to catch her husband red-handed. At night she decided to sleep outside the room her daughter was sleeping in. She couldn’t sleep for a second because she was in pain, agitation. In the middle of the night, her husband walked into the room and reached for his daughter. Bibi woke up and started beating him. Everybody from the neighborhood gathered. Bibi told everybody what was happening but her husband refused all allegations and called Bibi a characterless, rebellious woman. She was shouting, crying, begging everyone to save her daughter but no one believed her. She was forced to leave the village. Her daughter was left with her abusing father. He continued abusing her till her marriage.
This is a true story, and we have so many such stories around us. Since last few months, child abuse cases are increasing at a disturbing rate. The ministry of human resource has partnered with a non-profit organization SAHIL, working specifically against child abuse in Pakistan. According to data collected by SAHIL since 2013 more than 17,000 cases were reported, there are many untold stories which no one wants to tell because of no one is interested in listening.
Families are reluctant to disclose such issues. Parents do not pay much attention towards changing the behavior of their kids. More than children, parents need awareness of sexual abuse. People do not understand how badly an innocent mind can get affected. Many victims are never taken for proper counseling. A significant example is Kasur where about 150 young boys were raped and filmed. The incident was highlighted and got much hype in media. Unfortunately, no one bothered to consider the aftermaths of the entire episode. Victims were left with their families in extreme distress. Many of the boys committed suicide. After that several other serial rape cases were highlighted.
There are many stimulating reasons behind the increasing number of sexual abuse cases (not only against children but women) e.g. late marriages, pornography, etc. There can be a profound debate on these reasons. Many among us claim that in India number of such cases are very high but we are responsible for our society. Rape of one kid is as much as condemnable as 10 kids. Now we need to understand that cutting a poisonous bush cannot make any difference. We need to figure out why it is growing, from it came, how deeply rooted it is. We all are stakeholders so we all are responsible. If we cannot fight for a victim at least we can save a life by spreading awareness.
Child Abuse Prevention Considerations
Volunteer time – Get involved with kids, their activities, know people around them.Give your child quality time instead of quantity time. Ask them about their day, their friends, any exclusive event or happening.
Observe behavior – Keep a close sight on kid’s behavior.Do not neglect any unusual change in child’s behavior.According to Children’s Administration-Washington State Department of Social and Health Sciences “Unexplained injuries aren’t the only signs of abuse.Depression, fear of a certain adult, difficulty trusting others or making friends, sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor hygiene, secrecy, and hostility are often signs of family problems and may indicate a child is being neglected or physically, sexually, or emotionally abused.”
Educate others – The best way to prevent child abuse is to spread awareness among people around. Exchange opinion, ideas, experiences with other parents.
Explain children their rights – Teach children how they should react in a certain situation, discuss with parents if anything wrong or disturbing happens. Tell them what is acceptable and where to resist. Assure them whatever happened to them was not their mistake.
Report – Never neglect any evidence of abuse even in surroundings. Make a report of any such case. Give child enough confidence to speak up.
PS: Spread the word. Support Child Rights support and save an entire generation.