Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Innocence Lost: Child Sexal Abuse


In England, 85,000 women are raped on average every year; and 400, 000 women are sexually assaulted every year. One in 20 children have been sexually abused, and over 90% of them were abused by someone they knew.

Muslims are far from immune to crimes of sexual violence. The statistics are equally horrifying, if not worse because the number of reports tend to be much lower due to social stigma and lack of trust and access to the authorities.

In Pakistan, nearly 3,000 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in 2013; 40% of abusers were relatives, family friends, or acquaintances; and the most vulnerable age to abuse for both boys and girls was between 11 and 15.
In Egypt, 83% of Egyptian women reported experiencing sexual harassment at least once while half of them experienced it on a daily basis.

Despite these statistics – and numerous horrific anecdotes – sexual violence is an issue that Muslims all over the world still prefer to remain silent about. The stigma regarding sex, which may once have originated out of the Islamic concept of hayaa’ (modesty), has become a disease in and of itself, one that simply perpetuates un-Islamic beliefs and allows these filthy crimes to continue taking place on a daily basis.

An upcoming documentary, “Breaking Silence,” bravely confronts the deep-rooted cancer of sexual violence and particularly sexual abuse of children that exists in many, many Muslim families and communities.

As illustrated by the stories of four Muslim women who were sexually violated as children by those whom they trusted – whether family members or friends – even parents who are aware of the abuse often turn a blind eye or accuse their children of lying rather than admit the truth.

One major reason for the twisted attitudes existing regarding sexual violence amongst Muslims is an ignorance and lack of education about what Islam truly teaches about sex, including the difference between consensual sexual activity and sexual violence (whether against adults or children).

Despite the fact that the Shari’ah discusses and encourages a holistic sexual education from a young age, many Muslims prefer to follow deviant notions of ‘honor’ and ‘shame.’ The true shame and dishonor lies not in admitting that sexual violence takes place, but in allowing them to continue rather than to educate oneself, one’s children, and the entire community about Islamic values regarding sex.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his Companions were very honest and open about sexual education, even with regards to children.

'Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Aswad narrates:
"My father used to send me to A'ishah and (as a child) I used to go to her (i.e. beyond the curtain). When I became adult (i.e. reached puberty; became baaligh), I came to her and called to her from behind the curtain: "O Umm al-Mu'mineen, when does the bath become compulsory?" She said: "So, you have done it, O Luka'! And (in answer to the question), when the private parts conjoin."
(Al-Dhahabi in Siyar A'lam an-Nubala)


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