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What is [wrong] with you? Why do you not help each other?" [37:25]

Insight into a Disease: Sexual Exploitation (Muslims Against Abuse)

You’re a dirty little angel. It’s supposed to hurt, I can’t enjoy it if you keep crying.  Stop pretending that you’re a human being. I know you want it.

Can you envisage such words being thrown onto you? What would be your reaction, if so? Whilst the feeling of abhorrence may just not suffice, what if the act of defending oneself, by any means necessary, may just not suffice either? What if the strength of the perpetrator was much too overpowering to conquer? What if, after the event, the perpetrator would not let his victim forget about what had happened, should he even be dismissed from the picture, what if the event still plays in her mind, a whole year or two on, influencing every single aspect of her life. God forbid— what if this was you. What if this was your sister. What if this was your mother. What if this was your daughter. What would you do?

You’re a dirty little angel. It’s supposed to hurt, I can’t enjoy it if you keep crying. Stop pretending that you’re a human being. I know you want it.

Insight into a Disease- Sexual Exploitation (Muslims Against Abuse)These are dehumanising and manipulating words that have been uttered in real life events by rapists’— rape, being only one form of sexual exploitation. But before we go into the depths of the topic, it would be worth it, for our real understanding of the severity of the issue, branched from the criminal mind of the perpetrator, to briefly analyse these grotesque given sentences above.

If we notice closely, each sentence which may seem taboo in a very general sense, is actually structured in a way to attempt in making physical contact by force, appear not too forceful, harmful, or in essence, wrong, at all; and therefore warranted and justifiable. For example, labelling a person “dirty little angel” and “[not a] human being”, is a form of belittlement and dehumanisation, essentially to convince and persuade the victims that they are fitting and inhumane enough for animal instincts. In addition, the claims: “It’s supposed to hurt” and “I know you want it” are the perpetrators’ aim to feed their victim(s) supposed facts in order to remotely normalise the situation for self pleasure purposes. Thus in retrospect, not only can the perpetrator work physically to forcefully carry out sexual activities, but worryingly enough, the perpetrator can too be forceful psychologically and emotionally, entrapping the victim during the incident in all possible angles.

Now that we have concise image and idea regarding the severity of rape, it would be a crucial moment to remind ourselves that sadly, rape is merely one branch of the tree.  Many of us are not aware about the comprehensiveness of the term: sexual exploitation, disallowing us to understand the graveness of it as well. When we hear this term, many of us tend to think about rape, solely, which was hence a good aspect to have a clear insight into, as everyone knows what it is. In fact, there are even multiple causes established to specifically tackle this issue, alone, but, what about the branches of the tree that have not been tugged onto enough? Their poison fruits continue to grow abundantly and the sufferers continue to bear the effects of consumption.

In other words, what about the other aspects of sexual exploitation that we hardly ever speak about. What about the victims of these issues we hardly ever think about. Let us take a step back and try to comprehend for a moment, sincerely: if 85,000 women on average are raped in England and Wales alone, how many females are victims of trafficking, molesting, grooming, and being forced/coercion into prostitution? How many females—including now, our young children and teenagers—are victims of sexual exploitation in a holistic sense? Can we really take this in? The figures are outrageous and the truth is overwhelming, but whilst each form of sexual exploitation can be as detrimental and damaging as each other, is it not worth to thus have a balance approach in raising awareness regarding each issue, and give the victims of all forms of sexual exploitation our complete empathy,  attentiveness, assistance and prayers?

Allah Glorious and Exalted is He, says in the Qu’ran:

And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right (Al-Ma’rûf) and forbidding what is wrong (Al-Munkar), and those will be the successful.
{Surat ‘Āli `Imrān 3: Verse 104}

Here, Allah Glorious and Exalted is He, gives us a key factor to success: to enjoin that which is Al-Ma’ruf, and to forbid that which is Al-Munkar. Furthermore, six verses later, Allah Glorious and Exalted is He, makes mention of the nation who did exactly that, and describes them as the best of nation that had ever risen from mankind, and of course, this was none but the nation of the Prophet, (peace be upon him) during his time.

In retrospect then, we are to emulate the greatness of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions, (may Allah be pleased with them all), with respects to how sincerely they enjoined the Ma’ruf and forbade the Munkar (should we truly desire the epitome of success). Their excellence in this sphere is reflected beautifully during the reign of ‘Umar ibn al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), under whom the occurrence of social policy was first developed and established (in history), ie: an official body which was responsible for collective funds, and ensuring that these funds were distributed to various categories, including education, widows, children (ie: child benefit) and those in need. Umar enjoined that which was good.

Almost a couple of centuries on, when the Muslims were being ruled under the reign of Mu’tasim Billah (may Allah be pleased with him), a time where Muslims still reflected the examples of the best of mankind, there was a woman who happened to be captured by the Romans who attempted to dishonour her, but could not. She called out the leader’s name, “Ya Mu’tasim!”, and upon hearing news about this, Mu’tasim Billah responded immediately by sending 30,000 of his own soldiers to rescue this one woman. Mu’tasim forbade that which was evil.

So we can comprehend exactly how compact our systems were with justice, upon justice, something that needs to be brought back and established within our internal systems: our minds and hearts. We need that level of care, that level of courage, that level of generosity, that level of zeal and that level of sincerity to emulate the examples of the figures during our golden era(s), and attempt to rid of something  as dangerous and detrimental as sexual exploitation. How many times have we heard stories about a young sister being taught by an ‘imam’, who had no idea that she was not meant to be touched in that way. How many times have we heard stories about a young sister who did not know her protector could become her oppressor until the day she opened her eyes from her sleep to find her father forcing himself onto her. These are realities within the Muslim community that leaves our sisters psychologically scarred, especially in their adulthood in many ways, and we have a responsibility to be their helping hand.

So what can we do to help? We can firstly take the two given examples above that requires your generosity, compassion, empathy, and time. We can be like ‘Umar ibn al khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) in respects to funding, and financially supporting various organisations that are attempting to tackle any aspect of sexual exploitation. We can enjoin the good. We can be like Mu’tasim Billah (may Allah be pleased with him) with respects to activism, and actively involve ourselves with organisations, causes  and subjects such as sexual exploitation that need more speaking of, even if it is doing research to build awareness at the least. We can forbid the evil.

One respected and reliable organisation you can involve yourself with or fund is the newly established Asilah Trust, holding a sincere objective to educate the public as well as provide multiple support to the victims of sexual exploitation, primarily but not exclusively in the Muslim community. Awareness, education, funding, and active involvement therefore, are key factors towards taking a step forward into making matters better, by the will and permission of God, and unto Him we pray that every soul that has been dishonored in any way, our sisters, and even in some cases our brothers, are touched with His healing, a healing that leaves behind no essence of damage or sickness. Ameen.

Guest Author : Salina Ahmed is just another activist engaging on subjects pertaining to religion, social issues and politics, the recent graduate in English Literature and Creative Writing simultaneously holds her passion for words assisting her towards writing pieces of literature on her blog SalinasRiver, and websites to organisations or causes she has contributed to.
Edited by Shamsiya Noorul Quloob ♦ To Read more about the Editor CLICK HERE

Prophet Muhammad - "Convey (knowledge) from me even if it is just one ayah" [Bukhari 3461]

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