This week’s post is going to be a little different. You see, I managed to convince my friend to write a little bit about her experience in community medicine. It was one of my first rotations and you might remember some of the posts I’ve written about my own experiences as we visited various places. When my friend shared about how it was going for her, I felt that it was certainly a great experience that needed to be shared, so I coerced her into writing a post for me!
So, everyone, without further ado, may I introduce you to Yumna Hassan! She’s also a fourth year medical student with lots of interesting experiences and hobbies under her belt. She’s also the one who got me into watching Korean dramas but shhh let’s not talk about that right now. Buckle up. We’re going to talk about serious things.
You might not have heard it, but about two months ago, a serial sexual abuser/ killer was rampant on the streets of Kasur (a small town in Pakistan) and police were trying their best to find him. There were eleven caught, but amidst all these hiatus, I found out some astonishing facts about child sexual abuse that are both jaw-dropping and terrifying. I would talk about them later but to cut the long story short, we all had a huge wake-up call there. I was reminded of one my professors who always used to say that there are three types of people in this world, and we come to know about them whenever they, or the community in which they live, face a problem:
- Those who wait for their time to come and when they are resourceful and powerful enough, they do something.
- The bystanders, who do nothing and wait for the problem to solve on its own
- And the third ones are those who despite having limited resources, struggle and change the situation they live in. (these are the ones that actually change the course of events)
With that thought in mind, the department of community medicine along with 20 students of Shifa College of Medicine decided to hold child sexual abuse awareness programs, to educate the children of Primary schools regarding this issue.
For this cause, we selected two schools, one named Hunehar Welfare School; which was located in a slum area of Islamabad and the other one was The Educators; an elite school in Satelite Town, Rawalpindi. There were two reasons for picking these two schools. Firstly, these schools had completely different types of kids enrolled in them in every aspect of life, starting from environment to the exposure of these kids to the general population; and secondly; cough, more Importantly, cough; we knew the administration that runs these schools. I was amongst the students who went to Hunehar. So, I will be sharing my experiences of that school today.
When we arrived at school, the children were having their math’s class. First, we did some ice-breaking activities, like playing musical chairs and playing with a ball; as these kids were very small, and there were very shy and intimidated by our white coats, (which we were not allowed to take off). After a while, these kids became frank and they opened up to us. It was at that time that we started doing what we intended to do. For that purpose, we divided the kids in 5 groups and each group had 5 children. Then we showed them different videos and gave them the concept of good and bad touch; and told them about the safe circle that a child has. Basically, safe circle is a term we used to describe those relatives whom a child should contact no matter what.(mother, father, brother, sister, and grandparents). We also told them some things like not to accept sweets from strangers and told them what they had to do just in case an adult tries to impose his/her will on them.
After these sessions, we played some more games with the kids and after that, we ate together and then we came back.
After coming back, although we knew that we did something, but we all felt that the impact we created was not big enough and that we should do other things as well. Because you know, the population of Pakistan is so huge and telling only 100 children (from both schools) is just not enough. So, we thought that we should go to the same schools once again and this time round, we would educate the teachers. As a teacher deals with countless students over the years; therefore even if one teacher implies such practices in her teaching the impact would be far greater. With that thought in mind, we held a second conference in the schools.
In these conferences, we focused on the following points:
- Child sexual abuse is very common; one in every four girls and one in every six boys are affected. If I just speak if numbers, you might not understand the magnitude of this problem, but take a moment here; close your eyes and think of your four closest friends; chances are that one of them is being abused. Horrifying; isn’t it…
- This abuser is not always a male and the abusee is not always a female kid. In fact, the abuser can be of any gender, and he/she can be of any gender, cast, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
- Most of the abusers, in fact, more than 90 percent of the abusers are either the child’s relatives or the people with whom the child is well acquainted with via his/her parents. And there is a reason to that. If you think of it; most parents; in a way give their children the concept of stranger-danger, but what most of the parents completely ignore is the fact that the people close to them can also assault the child. They think that their friends and family members would never do that. I mean, even I find it really hard to admit that one of my now acquaintances can become an abuser; so what parents do is; they completely omit this part of the training. BUT THE REALITY SAYS SOMETHING THAT IS ALTOGETHER VERY VERY DIFFERENT. Now, hold it right there. I am not saying that one should suspect his/her each and every friend; I am just saying that one should educate their child that such a thing can happen.
- Most of the cases go unreported. There is this thing where we think that reporting a case would cause bad reputation of the family, so we do not report that case. Also, most of the time, people think that a child is making up these stories, as he is not getting much attention from his parents. REMEMBER!!! A child is not capable of telling such lies. If you hear things like that, IT IS ALWAYS THE TRUTH.
- It is never the fault of the child. I mean when I am writing it like this, it seems very obvious, but God forbid, if someone comes with you, with such a complain, never ask questions like “oh, but what were you doing there in the first place?” or maybe “Why did you go to that Uncle/Aunt?” “Did your parents never warn you about such situations?”…. Saying such things could make a child feel like he is the one responsible. He shouldn’t have gone there or he/ she shouldn’t have trusted that relative. Remember, what has happened, is already in the past. There is no way of turning that round. It was really difficult for that child that he/she opened up to you in the first place. If you ever bombard him/her, without thinking, with such questions, they would never tell anyone again, not even to the police of that incident.
- You should train the kids around you in such a way that if they were ever followed by someone for reasons like these, there are two things that they should teach them to do. Shout no loudly, and run. Pretty basic, right. But teach them to run at that time instead of just freezing in the air
After saying this all, I would like to conclude my post, first of all, thanks to Kanra Khan for allowing me (forcing me😜) to write on such an important topic and secondly let us all pray that the kids around us get free from people from people like these.
Thank you for reading. Please remember to always create a positive and supportive environment for children and to spread awareness so that they can be protected. I hope you have a nice day.
This post was written by and published with the permission of its original author.