A PDF version will be available on conclusion for printing/distribution
Parental Discretion Advised
If you are a parent of children who read posts on MM, then this is one that you should read yourself first, before allowing them to read it, so that you can judge the benefit/harm. One benefit is that if there is any child, who has gone through such a situation, it may open a channel for him/her to discuss it with you.
General Reader Discretion Advised
Reader discretion is advised as some content is graphic, but I felt NECESSARY to include, in order to fully understand and appreciate the grave situation.
A Note on Comments:
If comments are related to future topics, I will likely hold them back (i.e. moderate them) until we get to those topics. So, please don't worry if you see your comments missing. And also unrelated comments could be removed.
Child Molestation in Muslim World- Myth or Reality? Part I
He was coming to her house again. Little Noreen's heart skipped a beat; her legs froze. She looked around.Â Â Everyone was busy, but she couldn\'t find anything to do to distract her thoughts. She wanted to hide.Â She wanted to run. She knew the ritual of his visit; his eyes staring her down, the evil lecherous smile on his face which only she could see while the rest of the family saw as the expression of a loving â€œelder relative.â€
Once the family got busy talking, he would take Noreen into a room, and force her to do things she never knew could be done. Sometimes he forced his hands inside her clothes and touched her private areas. No one had ever talked to her about her â€œbody parts,â€ but she could feel it wasn\'t right. Sometimes, when he wanted to be touched, he forced her hands inside his pants. Her little hands would shake, her body would tremble, but how could she refuse? She was very young, 5, perhaps 6 and very scared. She knew something was wrong. She shouldn\'t be doing this, she shouldn\'t be here. She wanted to scream but he put his hand on her mouth; she wanted to run to her mother, but he put a sharp knife on her neck threatening to kill her if she ever said a word to anyone.
This hadn\'t happened just once. As he built his confidence, he started having his private meetings with her more often. Sometimes he would even tie her hands, and sometimes he would even tape her mouth so he could take total advantage of his hands and hers. In almost each meeting, there was something new; there was something different. He advanced from touching to kissing to hugging; at times with clothes and at times without clothes. He forced her to â€œengage orallyâ€ with him, and he showed her how to touch herself in a perverse way [masturbation]; he made her experience everything, only stopping at rape. He had full access to her whenever and wherever he wanted.Â And why wouldn\'t he?
He was her mother\'s nephew; her own elder cousin. After a few incidents the little child gathered up her courage and tried to tell her mother.
If we were to bet on one person to jump into a burning house to save her/his children, who would it be? Most of us would bet on a mother.
Little Naureen approached her mother with a trembling body, and fear in her eyes.Â She took little steps towards her motherâ€•the person who was her source of security and protection.Â She wanted to confide in her mother and find solace. Her mouth felt dry as she talked, gulping down her sobs, but when she looked up at her mother, hoping to be hugged and comforted, her world was shattered by her mother\'s utter disbelief! She felt as if she was under the scorching sun, with no roof above her for shade against the burning heat.Â She was aloneâ€¦oh so alone in a home full of her very own. Where else could she go? Whom else could she turn to when her own mother blamed her of imagining â€œthingsâ€â€”things that the little girl could not even have known about?
Dear readers, this is not a fictional story. This is the reality of a woman, now living in America, who was once this little girl in Pakistan. And it is not the reality of just one girl; this has been happening to many little girls. According to Sahil, an NGO (non-governmental organization akin to a non-profit in the States) in Pakistan, there are 5.4 cases of molestation reported per day. And these are only the REPORTED cases, and as we could imagine, the vast majority of cases remain unreported, thus likely many fold more. Why unreported? Because, generally speaking, Muslims are in denial about this phenomenon. And the denial emanates from how far the true practice of Islam is from this evilest of practices.
Surprised? Don\'t be. I had a hard time believing it when I first encountered sisters in such situations. I thought that these heinous acts only happen in non-Muslim societies. How could Muslims do such a thing? But, I was oblivious of how widespread this evil was within my very own Muslim world, where Muslim men victimize their own blood relatives, especially the little timid girls among them. I tried to assure myself that mothers similar to the mother of Naureen's, were rare. I definitely had a lot to learn.
The purpose of this series of articles is to advise Muslim parents around the world to be cautious, to offer help to the victims of this abuse, and to offer suggestions to the family members of those victims.
Additionally, Sister Haleh Banani (who has a Masters in Clinical Psychology) will assist me in offering help to the sisters here. If my fellow sisters, who have been victims of this abuse, or continue to be victims today, are scared and do not have cooperating families, please put your questions and comments here, and inshā'Allāh we will respond and offer help in whatever way possible. If you do leave a comment that is of personal nature, make sure you do not disclose your name (i.e. leave the comment with an anonymous name), but DO leave a valid email so we are able to contact you inshā'Allāh.
This series of articles will be divided into following categories:
The following links, when available, will open up separate posts:
- A. Approaching Their Families
- B. Emotional & Psychological Damages
- C. Personality Damage
- D. Intimacy & Marital Relationship
Throughout the article, I will be using true stories of various sisters. Rest assured that the names have been changed, but I have tried to leave the stories as uncensored as possible.
1. Victims Themselves?
Although there is a popular belief that most male molesters were victims themselves in their childhood, this assertion doesn\'t hold water with scientific evidence. It may be true in some cases, but cannot be generalized for all situations. According to this research, sometimes molesters are molesters just because that is who they are.
2. Family and Friends:
In nearly all cases, the molester is either a family member or a close family acquaintance. In the case of all the victims that I have dealt with, the molesters were close relatives, including cousins, uncles, and even grandfathers, iyyadhobillah.
It is much easier for the molesters to molest their own family members or the children of close friends, than to find prey elsewhere. They are trusted by family members and friends; hence the odds of getting caught or being doubted are very low. Besides, it is easier to gain access to the child. Most of the victims who entrusted me with their horrific stories, were molested by family members who visited frequently. That is why these girls were not only repeatedly molested, but when these girls tried to confide in an elder, they wouldn\'t believe them.
It must also be noted that the molester, very astutely, observes the child-parent relationship. In many cases, the victims are children who don\'t have a close and frank relationship with their parents (I will discuss this in more detail inshā'Allāh).
1. Best time and Place:
Apparently, molesters do not need extra time or any special place to attack their prey.
Mona was a 6-7 year old, growing up in America. She was molested in the car by her maternal uncle, who was several years elder to her mother. Her uncle had taken her family shopping and had dropped them at a store while he waited in the parking lot. The little girl stayed behind with her uncle. He asked her to come sit on the front passenger seat. This little girl, without even thinking twice, jumped to the front seat, like any niece would have done. He first started touching Mona on her chest, then slipping his hands inside her shirt, and then into her trousers.Â He did all this, while intently staring at her, to take note of her reaction. Mona pleaded with him to stop, but he only stopped when he was â€œsatisfiedâ€. The little terrified girl ran inside the store to her family, totally in shockâ€¦
These wretched people don\'t even wait for a specific place or time.Â They attack when least expected. The time and place is so opportunistic and unlikely that even when the victims report the abuse, they are not believed.
â€œWe just left you in the car for a few minutes, how could it have happened to you in a public parking lot. Stop making up stories about my respected brother, just to get some attentionâ€.
2. Short and Quick
As I said, they don\'t need extra time to attack. By choosing a family member, many matters are made easy by taking advantage of family traditions.
Mona\'s uncle also took advantage of the family tradition of kissing foreheads.Â At times a simple peck on the forehead would become a complete lip-lock, iyyadhobillah.Â Had she told her mother, her uncle would have just laughed it off and changed the topic.
To be continued…
IF YOU NEED IMMEDIATE HELP, YOU CAN ALSO REACH OUT HERE:
- See related post on Muslim Youth Helpline: 1800- 550 – MYHL (6945)
Image Credit: Sound of Silence, a Hyderabad, India-based group.