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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Child Abuse- Mubashra Saleem

Among thousands of social evils prevailing across the globe, child abuse definitely ranks among the highest on list. It’s a hideous crime practiced since ages. Pain and injury from child sexual abuse can heal with time, however psychological and medical consequences can persist throughout one’s entire life. Every day, countless children around the world are sexually, physically, verbally, or emotionally abused leaving them with the most horrifying and calamitous memories for lifetime, for when they’re supposed to have the most remarkable years of their lives.
Statistically, more than five children die every day as a result of child abuse. On average, 3.3 million cases are reported annually. Where child abuse is increasing outrageously throughout the world, the rate is relatively higher in our subcontinent. Before I came to U.S as an exchange student I wasn’t even aware that we can speak against this horrible evil reigning the world. There are many like me back in Pakistan, who don’t know that we’ve the freedom to express our thoughts on this issue. This topic is badly neglected in most countries like those in the Indian Subcontinent not because we’re free of it, but because nobody wants to speak openly about this issue and some even don't consider it an evil.

It’s a worldwide concern but cases are more frequent in the Indian Subcontinent because of the joint family system. All the family members live under one roof, which makes children more vulnerable. Many children in Pakistan are abused but they can’t tell this to anyone because there is an immense lack of communication between parents and children and they’re afraid even if they do, nobody will believe them since they’re never given the confidence to share everything they want to. They’re often threatened by the abuser not to disclose the incident. Even if they want to speak out, they’re not allowed to do so mostly by their parents. It’s considered that keeping such things only to oneself is the best solution to the problem, which indeed is the greatest misconception. The frustration as a result; subjects to committing suicide and incredibly increasing its rate.  Staying quiet about evils never helps in eradicating them; rather it contributes in helping them prevail.
Children also are more vulnerable to child abuse because they’re never taught about how to prevent it. They don’t know what to do if they’re being abused or after they’re abused. It is ironic that due to the lack of awareness, thousands of children become victims.  The lack of knowledge is most instrumental in the threat of child abuse proliferation.

The upbringing of a child plays the paramount role in keeping him safe and secure from all the monsters reaching out to him. Being a child myself, I understand the intense need for awareness on this topic. Only an abused child knows where the shoe pinches and this gives me goose bumps. Certainly this is the most tragic, unfortunate, depressing, distressful, catastrophic, heartrending, and pitiful thing that can ever happen to an innocent child who has not yet seen the true colors of life.

I started to think about child abuse when once my friend shared with me the incident of being abused by her own uncle. She was horrified, scared to death and her lips frozen. As usual, she wasn’t allowed to share this with anyone, which contributed to her psychological stress for months and this turned her life murky and dark. Witnessing all this, I decided to devote my efforts to this cause and guess what, so can we all. Yes, you got it right each and everyone of us can play a role on our part. Yes you can educate your siblings, cousins and children in the vicinity about how to fight this horrendous ogre. Tell them not to stay silent, tell them to speak up, tell them to take someone in confidence, tell them it’s nothing wrong with them and please tell them not to ruin their rest of the lives only because of a person who was indeed a devil. 
You know, even a single voice can do wonders! So raise your voice for addressing this issue nationally and globally for making strict laws against the abusers to discourage such practices. The utmost need is to educate the common public; then to create awareness for others and finally raise voice against it, only then we can be successful in eradicating this atrocious epidemic. 

The fact that the once neglected Indian child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi got the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to the cause highlights the fact that the scenario  is changing gradually. It's the prime time to do our bit to exterminate this evil. 

Read an another thought-provoking article on Child Abuse here:

(Mubashra Saleem is the Pakistan correspondent of A student of Towson High School (Maryland), She is Pakistan's Youth Ambassador to the US on a Department of State program. She hails from Rawalpindi in Punjab, Pakistan.)

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