As the math tuition ended and the teacher made his way out of the house, Haider took a deep breath of relief. It was Friday – fortunately he wouldn’t see Mr. Abrar for two days now. It was impossible for Haider to keep the secret inside him for another second. He could no longer endure the uncertainty, the pain and the guilt. He prayed begging for someone he could request for help and security. Although Haider knew that his parents loved him a lot, he was afraid of the consequences his revelation might cause. He was scared that he would be blamed as his parents were always praising Mr. Abrar, especially for his conduct.
Often Haider thought that there may be something wrong with him – something for which he had to suffer like this. While the days were passing, a hole of despair and darkness appeared which was about to swallow him. Especially during the end of a day, twelve year old Haider could fully see the hole inside him, erasing the hope of freedom and escape piece by piece.
What Haider had to endure in childhood is molestation – one of the most ignored crimes in our society. A crime a lot of people do not even bother to acknowledge despite the fact that children are mostly the victims. As youngsters neither understand the concept nor the meaning of sexual intimacy child molesters have only a few difficulties in accessing them. However, in case of a sexual abuse, children are the ones left in a state of physical and mental helplessness. If they want to move forward their scars and nightmares prevent them from doing so. Their self-esteem becomes shattered like old glass while their souls are left naked. Moreover, they might blame themselves for the cruelty done to them by others.
In my personal view, parents who do not tell their children about sex and how a total stranger or a relative should treat them are equally responsible for the damage done by the molester. The so-called shame – the fear of putting inappropriate ideas in the mind of their children – or using religious teachings to imply that this topic is only relevant after marriage are no excuses.
We have to be aware of the fact that we are living in a world in which fathers rape their own daughters. How can one expect that a stranger cannot harm our little boys and girls just because he teaches the Holy Quran? How can one say that he will not have sexual fantasies with my child because he is a Muslim? If that would have proven we would not have heard about any rape cases in Pakistan.
However, apparently this is not the case. Parents should be aware of the fact that molestation takes place in our country as well as in foreign countries. Just by looking at the numerous media stories in Pakistan reporting about cases in which molesters were beaten by angry mobs for treating children in an objectionable manner, parents should be alarmed. Only if adults start to recognize the dangers of molestation, they will be able to teach their kids how to identify potential molesters and explain the damages sexual abuse could cause them.
We need to explain our little ones how they should behave in case someone pinches their arms or legs, suggests talking to them alone in their rooms, sits very closely to them or touches them in their private parts. Parents need to clarify that in such a case their children should immediately get away from that person no matter if it is a teacher, a family member, a friend or a neighbor. Moreover, children should be encouraged to communicate their experiences with someone they trust and share a close bond with.
Moreover, our society has to listen to children who report about advances made by any person instead of turning the back towards them and blame their imagination or Indian television and movies for it. Therefore, sex education should be a mandatory subject in schools.
Regarding the fact that it is difficult to reveal molesters in our society we should at least prepare our children to ward off the danger that they might have to deal with. Numerous households have already buried incidents of sexual abuse deep within their memories due to the fear about their honor. Let us all not create another Haider.