By Rabiya Sahibzada

July 17, 2009

Molestation is the sexual advancement towards children below the age of 18 by resorting to activities like exposing private parts, touching private parts etc with an intention to satisfy sexual desires.

Based upon my research, I am very sorry to find that people practice child abuse in most parts of the world. Study has found out that most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims; approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, uncles or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances such as friends of the family, babysitters, or neighbours; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases.

There are areas of the world in which the female is seen as a symbol of "honour" and good reputation, yet it is most often girls than boys, who are victimized. I am not even going to try to express a victim’s feelings in my own words. Only a victim can truly describe the emotions she experiences when her whole world shatters by someone who shares her own blood.

These molesters not only physically harm these girls, but in most cases cause severe emotional distress. Furthermore, to a large extent, what makes the damage more lasting is the reaction of the family. When some of these victims manage to put their fear and guilt aside, and gather up the courage to approach their families, most of the time, the families have the most ridiculous and devastating reactions, like denying and blaming them of imagining dirty things; accusing them of seducing the molester or merely telling them to hush up.

Signs of child abuse include:

* Changes in behavior, extreme mood swings, withdrawal, fearfulness, and excessive crying.
* Bed-wetting, nightmares, fear of going to bed, or other sleep disturbances.
* Acting out inappropriate sexual activity or showing an unusual interest in sexual matters.
* A fear of certain places, people, or activities.
* Bruises, rashes, cuts, limping, multiple or poorly explained injuries.
* Pain, itching, bleeding, fluid, or rawness in the private areas.

The emotional and psychological damages include:

o Fear and guilt. Statements like “look what you made me do” have severe and everlasting repercussions.

“Jasmine, a victim, recalled that her uncle, who started sexually molesting her when she was 4 and ended up raping her when she was 7, would warn her that if she ever told anyone of the abuse then people would think of her as a “dirty” girl and would hate her.”

o Losing trust. Children cannot differentiate, at such an early age, between physical love and physical abuse. Their trust is further damaged when they approach their parents only to be slapped with rejection.

“Jasmine also recalled that her uncle initially trying to find excuses to help her change her clothes or to assist her in taking showers. His hugs and kisses were very unusual, but he always assured her that he loved her so much and that she was such a special niece that he gave her “special” kisses as a secret.”

o Worthlessness, low self esteem and thoughts of suicide.
o Anger towards the molester and family. Mothers justify their negligence by claiming that their “hush hush” attitude was for the benefit of their daughter’s reputation in order to secure a good future spouse. Little do they know that the damage caused by their silence would only destroy the happily-ever-after marriage they so eagerly sought for their daughters.

The prevalence of child sexual abuse in Africa is compounded by a belief that sexual intercourse with a virgin will cure a man of HIV or AIDS. This belief is especially common in South Africa, which has the highest number of HIV-positive citizens in the world. According to official figures, one in eight South Africans is infected with the virus. More than 67,000 cases of sexual assaults against children were reported in 2000 in South Africa. Nineteen percent of the world's children live in India, which constitutes 42 percent of India’s total population. Children on the street, at work and in institutional care report the highest incidence of sexual assault.

It is possible for victims to recover from the hurt that is very personal and unique to them.

According to one, “Our past abuse will not stay in the past until we face it, put it in perspective and decide we truly want to be well. That's because putting the abuse behind us requires mental and emotional discipline. Every time a memory comes in we have to push it out with a more powerful, positive thought. Over time (usually years), the abuse memories carry few emotions and no power over us. After many years, the memories actually seem as though it were someone else, they are so foreign to our experience of life. This is the kind of life I hope and pray for anyone who has suffered childhood traumas like mine. It is neither fast nor easy, but it's lasting and rewarding...isn't that worth working for?”

I am not making light of it by saying it's just like other traumas. The only way it's like them is in what can be done about it. Just like other trauma's, one can completely recover and have a happy and healthy life. Victims should force themselves to take part in lots of positive and uplifting activities, volunteer work, etc. All of these things will help, but one thing is required for anyone to heal. Only One has the ability to know exactly where it hurts for you. Only One knows exactly how to restore your innocence and natural sexuality. That is the One who created you. God designed our sexual lives and is the only one who can restore us after someone has abused us in this way.

Allah says:

O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their person (when abroad): that is the most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (33:59)


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