Child Sexual Abuse: A Stinging Predicament
“Why me God? Is it my fault to be a child? Sometimes it feels like it’s my fault as I never said NO or STOPPED IT! After every home visit with me he used to say I shouldn’t tell anyone and the father will kick me out if I ever raise the voice against him. I didn’t know what to do. For the last 10 years I have had sleep issues with flashbacks of abuse, trust issues with friends and sometimes I get mad at people,” says a girl who was sexually abused in childhood.
Nowadays, child sexual abuse (CSA) is the most alarming issue in developing countries. It usually goes unreported and unnoticed at the moment because of which children face psychological issues in later part of their lives. According to World Health Organization, CSA is the involvement of a child in sexual acts in which the child is not able to resist the sexual assault, is unable to provide informed consent, and is not mentally developed.What if, from tomorrow, every CSA victim starts confronting their abusers on call like, ‘that man abused me.’ And what if victims start writing “Open letters” in Newspapers, that this woman did this to me?If that were to happen, there would be infinite calls and letters.
If we only estimate Pakistan’s data from Dawn report, it states that 10 cases of CSA occurred every day in 2015, bringing the estimate of 3,768 cases last year. And global data says, one in 10 children will be the victim of CSA before age 18.If I reflect on my childhood, my mom used to teach me that beware of strangers but 25-33% of adults sexually abused in their childhood already knew the perpetrators. And the abuser isn’t a random barbarian. But relatives, educators, coaches, caretakers; mostly the ones whom they know by names, says Christian in her blog.
Pakistani cultural values and religious dogmatists promote hushed aura about sexual abuse talks because of which this impermissible crime is not receiving due attention in social and legal domains of Pakistan. If we reflect on Pakistan’s law that not only includes punishment for sexual assaults for minors with imprisonment but also includes pornographic video maker’s imprisonment for 7 years with fine of 7 lakhs.
Sadly, with toothless legislative laws, the cruel numbers of abuse are increasing day by day. I questioned myself if the Pakistani society lacks the moral responsibility to talk about child sexual abuse. I asked this due to last year’s incidence of CSA of 270 children from Kasur, a small town in Punjab, Pakistan, who were not only sexually abused for 5 long years but around 400 pornographic videos were being spread like a wildfire in Rupees 50/.
I believe sexual abuse is increasing because of many unforbidden loopholes. Among them, the profound cause is lack of encouragement of discussions regarding sexual education with young children in home by parents and in community settings which ultimately increases the risk of abuse.
Second, it’s like a vicious cycle of abuse that a drug addict child is vulnerable to CSA or CSA child may get involved in drug addiction. Did you know that many stereotypes hold this misperception that sexual activity with child will remove HIV from body if the abuser is HIV positive.
Susanne Babbel explains in her article named, “Was I molested even though my clothes never came off?” that children can be sexually abused without bodily contact like using a child for erotic stimulation in order for sexual gratification.The issues with many CSA survivors isn’t about how to reach the abuser, but that they feel ashamed and guilty that they became the victim, unable to protect themselves.
Their concerns usually go unnoticed and those unnoticed repressed emotions exacerbate through psychological issues in future. In the short run of 2 years, a child may express regressive behavior like thumb sucking and bed wetting (applicable for young child), sleeping difficulties, eating problems, poor school performance and behavior issues.
Moreover, victims try to isolate themselves from social activities. In the long run, victims may feel a diverse range of issues ranging from anxiety related to self-destructive behavior such as getting involved in drug abuse, suicidal attempts, anxiety attacks or insomnia.
I have seen many survivors experiencing inappropriate sexual behavior and sexual orientation difficulties which harm them in the years ahead. I feel that if a car insurance can take the liability of faults then why does health insurance only treat victims? I mean that not only victims need psychological care but the abuser needs equal attention too.
In conclusion, with all psychological scars we as a common community or individuals or health care workers need to acknowledge this issue. For this we can conduct sessions on sex education that will primarily teach children to say no to sexual abuse and secondarily teach them normal sexual health, appropriate and inappropriate touching, which parts of the body are private, warning signs and other strategies to avoid ratios of CSA .
We can involve many non-governmental organizations for disseminating awareness about child sexual abuse like Sahil, UNICEF, Ahung and etc.Globally, media should broadcast dramas to acknowledge the issue like Pakistani Drama, “Udarri” has come up with perspective of child sexual abuse, its consequences and prevention strategies. In short, sexual abuse is increasing like a menace which not only destroys the child psychologically but also affects the society .Thus to overcome unnoticed scars, collective approach of health care professionals, teachers, parents, and media should contribute to eliminate CSA burden in Pakistan and worldwide.
1. Ali, S., & Ali, S. (2014). Child sexual abuse leads to psychological disorders: Literature review. Elective Medicine Journal, 2(4), 430-432. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.18035/emj.v2i4.317
2. Babbel, Susanne. “Was I Molested Even Though My Clothes Never Came Off?”. Psychology today. N.p., 2014. Web. 15 July 2016.
3. Cissy White, Christine. “Childhood Sex Abuse: Ending The Silence”. Ms. Blog. N.p., 2014. Web. 15 July 2016.
4. Dawn News,. “Keeping Quiet On Sexual Abuse Is Hurting Your Children”. 2016. Web. 15 July 2016.”Redirect Notice”.Google.com.pk. N.p., 2016. Web. 15 July 2016.
5. LaBier, Douglas. “Childhood Psychological Abuse Has Long-Lasting Impact”. The Huffington post. N.p., 2015. Web. 15 July 2016.
6. Memon, M., & Khan, L. (2014). A criminal law (amendment) bill, 2014- National Assembly. Retrieved August 15, 2015, from http://www.na.gov.pk/uploads/documents/1393407574_724.pdf
7. “7 Child Sexual Abuse”. Guidelines For Medico-Legal Care For Victims Of Sexual Violence. N.p., 2008. Web. 15 July 2011
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