Home / Abuse and its Evil Branches : Part 2 (Muslims Against Abuse)

Abuse and its Evil Branches : Part 2 (Muslims Against Abuse)

Bismillah Abuse and its Evil branches - Part 1

Part 1

What is the Scale of the Problem within the Muslim Ummah?
Child Sexual Abuse is so often hidden that the statistics vary widely. Some experts estimate that 1 in 4 girls (25%) and 1 in 6 boys (17%) are sexually abused before their 18th birthdays. This means that in any classroom or neighbourhood full of children, there are children who are silently bearing the burden of sexual abuse.

Although the scale of the problem in the Muslim Ummah is unknown, it is expected that prevalence is higher amongst Muslims residing in collectivist societies, where extended families are greatly relied upon i.e. Indonesia and India. Children often turn to trusted family friends or relatives, hoping to receive emotional support, and what usually happens is that families request the child who has been sexually abused to turn the other way or simply ignore the incident which has occurred. The bleak reality is that the responsibility is usually placed on the victim, and the perpetrator in most cases gets away with it. Many families fear humiliation and do not like to go against the cultural grain by bringing attention towards them on such a taboo issue.

Gupta and Ailawadi’s study (2005) revealed reasons why girls in India did not disclose the sexual abuse they were subjected to:

  • Wanting to forget
  • Fearing what people would think
  • Self-blame
  • Distrust
  • Minimising its importance
  • Feeling guilty for experiencing pleasure
  • Fear of being disbelieved
  • Fearing she is considered as being a willing participant
  • Feeling confused
  • Not knowing whom to tell

One of the best things you can do to protect your child or a children in your life is to take the time to learn the signs and symptoms of sexual child abuse.

Who Abuses Children?
Child sexual abuse happens in all racial, religious, ethnic and age groups, and at all socio-economic levels. In as much as 93% of child sexual abuse cases, the child knows the person who commits the abuse. The people who sexually abuse are either immediate or extended family members (fathers, mothers, step-parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.). They can also be neighbours, babysitters, religious leaders, teachers, group or gang members, coaches, or anyone else who has close contact with children.

In the past fortnight, I shared with two Muslim professionals that I am currently writing a series of articles on Child Sexual Abuse to educate the Muslim Ummah of its high prevalence and how to identify the signs. They both listened carefully and then shared stories with me:

When I was growing up in Sweden, my family knew of another family in our area. The little girl was 12 years old and her mother told her to go over to her Aunt’s house who had just moved in nearby, and she gave directions. She went and knocked on a door and said, ‘I am looking for my aunty and I don’t know whether this is the right place or not’. The man who opened the door looked at her and said, ‘Yeah, she lives here. She’s upstairs. Come on in’. The girl went in and was raped. It turned out that the Muslim man was a distant relative to this girl. She told her family and they did nothing. There was no court case or anything. She is a few years older than me, and if you look at her now, it’s so sad. She’s so messed up and has serious mental health issues. Her family really let her down.”
(Social Care Professional, 24)

This girl I know of was repeatedly raped by her brother. Her brother looked like a practising brother with a beard and everything, and he denied it all saying that she was lying, and people believed him, so he continued raping her”
(Mental Health Nurse, 27)

Since children are mainly abused in their own homes, adults need to learn what makes children vulnerable. Through guidance and supervision, children need to be aware of boundaries and inappropriate behaviour. Guardians must recognise the warning signs of those who may be sexually abusing their children, and what to do if the sexual abuse is suspected.

How do perpetrators behave?
On the website, www.myscars.org, there is a detailed discussion about the behaviour symptoms of child sexual abusers. Their modus operandi include: a blatant violation of personal boundaries, the giving of unwanted attention to children by kissing and hugging them, or frequently walking in on children in the bathroom.

Such abusers have secret interactions with children for their own emotional or physical comfort by sharing personal or private information, normally shared with adults. They often want uninterrupted time with children, such as insisting on babysitting alone.

Another scenario is that they seem ‘too good to be true’. For example, they could give money for no apparent reason, or let children get away with inappropriate behaviour. Talking ‘dirty’ around children is perhaps more obvious, as are suggestive jokes and pointing out sexual images. Any type of sexualised conversation or behaviour in the company of children is a red flag, such as being overtly interested in their body.

In addition to the above, there should be cause for concern about someone’s behaviour if they:

  • Spend long periods on the internet, so that it becomes a preoccupation and impacts on their family and work
  • Become secretive about their online activity i.e. shutting the door, or changing the screen if someone comes into the room
  • Regularly make plausible excuses for working online i.e. regularly uses the internet at night
  • Become emotionally distant and less available, withdrawn from usual family and social activities
  • Break promises not to go online so often, and hide traces of their online activity and file storage
  • Increase their pornography viewing and change their sexual attitudes and preferences
  • Use new technologies with children, whilst excluding adults
  • Meet up with children in real life who they met online

However, sex abusers behave in many different ways, and despite their wicked and perverse behaviour, are often parents or guardians themselves.

My advice to the Muslim Ummah:
1)      Allah (Subhānahu wa Ta’āla) has blessed us with intellect and free will. Be aware of your surroundings and how people behave. Perpetrators may be closer than you think, and they operate within families. You not only have a responsibility with your own children, but you also have a duty towards your Ummah. Ignorance is not bliss, as you may be able to ignore things now. But how would you feel when it gets to a level where it cannot be ignored and that same child committed suicide after being repeatedly raped? If we do not use our intellect and our ability to act we are worse than cattle.

Allah’s Apostle (sallahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfil his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection.”
[Volume 3, Book 43, Number 622: Sahih Bukhari]

2)      If you have experienced or are experiencing abuse, do not blame yourself as this was not in your control. Trust your instincts and turn to someone who you trust and who can help you through this, or seek professional help. Do not suffer alone.  Remember that with Allah (Subhānahu wa Ta’āla) are the keys of the Unseen, and He, the Almighty, All-Merciful, is the One Who brings relief from worry and distress. So turn to Him and call upon Him, and always repeat this dua:

“Allahumma inni a’udhu bika min al-hammi wal-hazan wa a’udhu bika min al-‘ajzi wal-kasal wa a‘udhu bika min al-bukhli wal-jubn wa a ‘udhu bika min ghalbat ad-dayn wa qahr ar-rijal”
(O’ Allah, I seek refuge with You from distress and grief, and I seek refuge with You from incapacity and laziness, and I seek refuge with You from miserliness and cowardice, and I seek refuge in You from the burden of debt and being overpowered by men.)

3)      If anything I have mentioned struck a chord, then check yourself. Ask yourself: ‘Do I have an interest/ attraction towards children?’, ‘Do I behave in some of the ways described in this article?’ Seek forgiveness and make sincere dua to Allah (Subhānahu wa Ta’āla) to change the state of your heart so that you do not become an oppressor and seek professional help as soon as possible.

 “In fact, my Lord has forbidden all kinds of lewd and obscene acts whether committed openly or in secret: (all sorts of) sins and wrongful oppressions, associating anything (or anyone) with Allah for which He has revealed no sanction, and attributing to Allah that about which you know nothing.”
{Surah Al ‘A’rāf 7: Verse 33}

Authored by – Fateha Majid is a seeker of knowledge, a philanthropist and an activist. She is a Psychology Graduate from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and Development Studies Postgraduate from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Fateha is fuelled by human empowerment and development and truly committed to making a positive difference to individuals in the UK and internationally. She is psychologically trained working as a Social Worker for the Child Protection Safeguarding and Support Team for Local Government. She successfully completed NSPCC (National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children) Key Skills Counselling training. Fateha is a Director for a Not-For-Profit charity, Wishful Smiles, which has‘a vision to see hunger, pain, poverty and social injustice eradicated from the world ; as it acknowledges that every human life matters and deserves a chance to flourish. Fateha is fascinated by the psychological dimensions of the Quran and is drawn to the writings of Imam-Al Ghazali on purification of the soul. She aspires to be a talented writer producing inspiring books to educate and empower the Muslim Ummah.
Edited by Umm Daania bint Isa

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