Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Brooklyn, New York - Pakistan -- Who Ever Said Pakistan Was A Third World Country?

Child sexual abuse: Breaking the silence

Child abuse is a forbidden talk in almost 90% of the families in Pakistan, even in the educated class. We have to spread it.

Find out what you and your childr­en need to know to stay safe in a danger­ous world.

Child sexual abuse may be more rampant than you think. The only way to safeguard children is awareness - both for the children and the parents. Find out what you and your children need to know to stay safe in a dangerous world.

Sifting through the glossy flash cards that have drawings of two children in their underclothes, one can easily conjure an image of a classroom: children listen to their teacher intently as she holds up the cards and speaks to them as if this is a storytelling session. But this is not some fairytale being related; it is an important lesson in life.

The teacher points out on the flash card, “These are our private parts. We keep them covered at all times.”

She moves on: a caretaker is bathing the child. And in the next: a doctor is doing a physical examination with his shirt pulled up. All good touches, she tells them.

But then, in the following flashcard, a man in a classroom appears to slide his hands into a boy’s shirt. And in another one, a mustached man in a shalwar kameez — the archetypical ‘uncle’ — places his hand on a visibly uncomfortable girl’s knee. “If anyone touches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, sad or hurt, that is a bad touch. You should immediately tell a grown-up. Even if they tell you to keep it a secret,” are the teacher’s instructions.

The flashcards are part of a toolkit handed out to schoolteachers by Aahung, an NGO working to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights in Pakistan. “Adults can link certain behaviour with sex, but children cannot,” explains Sheena Hadi, director of Aahung. “Even if a child is running around naked in the house, it has no sexual connotations for them at all. For an adult, they see nudity and they associate that with a number of things in their adult mind,” she says.

Children of ages between seven and 11 are considered most susceptible to sexual abuse — they are at the most vulnerable stage of their lives for molesters to make advances because they seem to have come out of the ‘baby’ phase and are maturing. If older than that, there are chances they can fight back or speak out, endangering the attacker. Adolescents are also physically bigger and hence harder to control.

Hadi says that the perception that girls are more prone to abuse is one of the biggest myths. And so is the idea that children from higher income backgrounds are less susceptible since they do not venture out of their homes by themselves.

In reality, boys can be accessible in madrassas or schools, and children from affluent backgrounds have much bigger houses where abuse can go on undetected.

For a parent, this is a frightening prospect. Perhaps this is the reason why they like to brush it under the carpet. “Parents dread such a conversation with their children. ‘What if we scare the child?’ is what they feel,” says Hadi.

Hence, it is imperative that you prepare your child, so that he or she is empowered enough to escape or preempt a possible situation. The Express Tribune Magazine sat down with the Aahung team and discussed how to protect a child from sexual abuse and what to do in case the unthinkable happens.

How to protect your child from sexual abuse?

This is one of those situations where a little parental paranoia can be a good thing. Here are a few things all parents need to know:

As a rule of thumb, be vigilant and don’t leave the child unsupervised for a long period of time with an adult, be it the tutor, the maulvi sahib teaching the Quran, a trusted domestic servant or even an aunt or uncle. Child sexual abuse is known to be carried out not just by strangers, but also by close family members and acquaintances that enjoy the trust of parents and have easy access to the child.

Pay attention to your child’s mood changes. Aggression or depression, eating or sleeping disorders, loss of interest in daily affairs or academics, fear of or aversion towards certain persons or places may be telltale signs.

Develop a close and friendly relationship with your child that gives him/her the confidence to talk to you even about intimidating things.

If children do not like how they are handled by a relative or refuse to be kissed or hugged by them, don’t be angry. They may lose the ability to refuse a molester too.

Some age-specific measures you can take to avert child sexual abuse:

Ages 3-5: identifying private body parts and giving ownership

At the age of three you may feel a child is too young to understand these things, or you may feel it’s too early to expose a young soul to the perversion of the world just yet. But Hadi rightly says that your child “has a very deep intuition about what is right and wrong”. This is why the earlier you start making your child more aware, the better. The key element of course is “how”.

You may have taught the child about the “eyes” and “nose” but don’t shy away from identifying and naming their private parts too, even if you give them your own names. They should know that private parts can only be touched by trusted adults while changing or giving a bath, or perhaps a doctor.

“Don’t use words of shame to describe their body,” adds Aisha Ijaz. “Don’t spank their hand if they touch their bodies because children internalise these feelings and are too embarrassed to report incidents of abuse involving these parts.”

4 Onwards: developing decision-making skills

You want the child to be able to say “no” if inappropriate advances are made. Give him the confidence to make decisions and take action by himself, starting from everyday matters. For this your parenting ‘command and control’ will sometimes have to take a backseat. Don’t simply instruct them or make choices for them all the time; explain how they may get hurt if they are going to do something potentially harmful: “If you don’t wear something you might get cold” or “you can cut yourself if you handle the knife,” rather than forbidding them from it. A naïve, pushover kid will be more susceptible to instructions of the abuser.

Age 5-9: differentiating the good from the bad touch

Once a child knows how to differentiate between public and private body parts, he or she can graduate to learning how a bad touch can be told apart from a good one. No demonstrations needed; mention stuff to them casually and privately while they play, bathe, or do their usual stuff, so that they don’t get overwhelmed. Tell them that good touches are those which make you feel happy, loved, or comforted, such as a parent’s hug or a teacher’s pat on the back. Bad touches are those that evoke feelings of fear, discomfort and pain. Or even any touch that is new or unusual.

You can even use stories to illustrate good and bad touches that you can refer to later: “Remember what happened in the story about..?” Role plays depicting a possible situation of abuse prepare the child for an eventuality too: Ask them questions like: “If a person tells you not to tell anyone what they are doing, what should you do?”

What to do if your child becomes a victim?

Ask the child to explain in his own words what happened, but don’t push him into giving details if he does not want to. They may want to talk at a different time. In fact, they may reveal details in stages. They could begin relating a story and then say they forgot the details. Then they might start the story again some other time, but say it happened to someone else or change the details.

Remain calm and do not overreact because the child may become scared.

Do not outrightly question or doubt the child’s story by saying “Are you sure that is what happened?” or “are you really telling me the truth?” Trust your child’s instinct.

Hug him or her and give him the confidence that it’s not his fault. And reassure the child that he did the right thing by telling you.

Show your child to a medical practitioner if there are signs of injury, and a psychologist if the child has trouble relating the incident. Therapy is carried out through art and play.

Refrain from saying negative things about the abuser. Often it is someone the child is close to and the child may feel terrible about implicating the molestor. In fact many molesters are very loving and playful with their victims.

Try to remove the child from the situation....



Boog's "Sick out there and getting sicker" file said...


Dr. Bungalow Butt Neuhoff said...


Clara Beyler
Research director, Osen LLC

A New Frontier in Terrorist Attacks?


A few weeks ago, a young Panamanian woman was arrested in Spain while trying to smuggle approximately 1.4 kilos of cocaine in her breast implants. According to the Daily Mail, this tactic was previously used by another female drug mule, a model who was arrested at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport in 2011. Flying in from Brazil, that woman was caught with a similar amount of cocaine surgically implanted in her breasts and buttocks.

These incidents immediately raise a couple of questions: How many women have successfully slipped through airport security? And since buttock implants can also be performed on men, have any male drug mules undergone comparable surgical procedures? There is very little data on this phenomenon, but it poses risks beyond the drug wars because several major terror groups, such as Columbia’s FARC, the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah and the Taliban finance their operations in part through the drug trade. Furthermore, drug cartels and terror groups also borrow from each others’ tactical successes.

It was only a matter of time before al Qaeda used a drug trafficking technique to strike at the heart of Saudi Arabian security. In September 2009, one of Saudi Arabia’s most wanted al Qaeda members, Abdullah Asieri, successfully evaded Saudi security measures on his way to a meeting with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, then Assistant Interior Minister, who played a key role in counter-terrorism. Under the pretext of turning himself in the state terrorists’ rehabilitation program, Asieri approached Nayef and detonated explosives hidden in his rectum. While Asieri died and Nayef was only slightly injured, the media assured Asieri’s legacy by referring to him with the classy moniker “the butt bomber.”

Earlier this month, Afghan intelligence chief Assadullah Khalid was severely wounded when an assassin, posing as a Taliban interlocutor, detonated explosives on his person during a meeting with Khalid. Unconfirmed media reports suggested that the bomber underwent surgery in Pakistan where the bomb was placed inside his stomach. If those reports are accurate, the choice of method used in this assassination attempt may still be nothing more than a one-off tactical decision. But it could also signal the beginning of a new trend among terrorist organizations, building on techniques already used by drug smugglers: the weaponization of the human body.

Terrorists have at times relied upon female operatives because they tend to be regarded with less suspicion than their male counterparts.

One can only wonder when, not if, the next bomb will be buried in a human body. This deadly surgery might involve, for example, explosives hidden in a woman’s womb to make her appear pregnant; such an assassin could easily justify escaping a metal detector or body scanner out of fear of radiation for her “baby.” It is easy to imagine that TSA screeners would also be reluctant to unduly invade the woman’s privacy lest they risk complaints of sexual misconduct. A lack of vigilance in this instance could have disastrous consequences if the bomber slipped on to a commercial flight or into a key military installation. While acknowledging that this remains a hypothetical scenario to date, some policy recommendations can already be suggested.