By Asma Anjum Khan,
When the comments section of an article becomes a filthy ditch of abuses getting too personal, itâ€™s an easy guess, somewhere some feathers have been ruffled.
Same happened with V P Rajeena [Media One Group, winner of Goenka award of journalism] from Kerala. who said Child Sexual Abuse happened in madrasas. She says pedophile ustads targeted young and vulnerable children while she was studying at one such madarsa at Kozhikode, Kerala. Discussing sexual abuse is extremely difficult; it started being publicly discussed only in and around the 1980s.
Rajeena got death threats and filthy abuse both at the same time for her courage to speak out. K.T.Hussain, a prominent Muslim figure and Asst. Director at Islamic Publishing House, mocked her, questioning the authenticity of her account. This was a typical male reaction.
Rajeena shouted back, saying, â€œI believe Iâ€™ve not been able to express even an iota of the horrifying experiences I faced, when a victim comes out in the open and speaks up about sexual abuses, learned men like Hussain should have encouraged and supported.â€
Rajeena was wrong. Expecting this from narrow minded quarters is pure naivetÃ©.
The next step, of course, was blaming her for tarnishing the image of Islam. The brave woman shot another salvo: â€œShould Islam save molesters and p(a)edophiles? Is Islam that weak?â€, she said, adding: â€œFor me, Islam is not, for me, Islam ascertains the rights of not only men and women, but also all living beings in this universeâ€.
So beautifully put, Rajeena!
Tell me, what are we afraid of? Why do we feel horrified when a la Rajeena shows us the mirror? Is the reflection so ugly? Instead of probing the reflection, why do we run after the one who dared to hold the mirror?
Havenâ€™t we been told to investigate the matter when someone brings a newsy piece to us and not to jump on conclusions? But our men folk become quite â€˜enragedâ€™ especially when the person speaking is a woman. Itâ€™s not funny to see some cowards telling her that she too might have enjoyed the â€™dirty abusive touchâ€™. [ Keep in mind Rajeena was only eight.] I guess they might say the same thing to the women who are raped in the riots.
Did you enjoy your rape, sister?
Because as per their principle whenever a womanâ€™s body is violated, against her will, she enjoys it too, no? Our misplaced outrage followed by muffled silence is not at all surprising, we have always ducked our heads when such bouncers come.
If we are protesting the Riot Rapes, but wanting to bury the (alleged) Child Rapes in madarsas , then I am sorry to say it stinks and is downright hypocritical.
Also a word for those worrying for these kids, please get justice for Riot Rapes too.
Often children from the lower stratum of our society study in such madarsas [Sometimes these institutions are; orphanages, where young children are sent for education and free boarding and lodging]; their poverty makes them vulnerable. What if they were your Sabiha, or my Suhail? What if these were apples of our own eyes? Would we have kept mum?
Rajeenaâ€™s views have been confirmed by a Kerala film maker, Ali Akbar who claims he was abused by his madrasa teacher when in class IV and after which he never went back. He says, no child in his class was safe and almost everyone was abused.
The first ever government survey in India about child sexual abuse in 2007 revealed that more than half the children ( 53%) in the survey had faced some form of sexual abuse; 20% said they had been subjected to severe abuse, In 2014, 8,904 cases were registered under the new law, but in addition, for the same year, the National Crime Records Bureau recorded 13,766 cases of child rape; 11,335 cases of â€œassault on girl child with intent to outrage her modesty; 4,593 cases of sexual harassment; 711 cases of â€œassault or use of criminal force on girl child with intent to disrobeâ€; 88 cases of voyeurism and 1,091 cases of stalking. (source)
Do child abusers have a different personality than the other rapists?
A common trait found among them is their deep inferiority complex coupled with negative personas. They lack the ability to tolerate criticism, are introverts and want everyone to endorse their views. The abused child feels ashamed, guilty and holds oneself responsible for the crime.
This is tragic.
Now keep a hand on your heart and ask yourselves, havenâ€™t we all heard such â€™dirtyâ€™ stories in some or other form?
Would my/our silence enable the rape and abuse of several hundred more children, in coming days?
If the answer is yes, [ as it is for me] then old yourself responsible and speak up.
There is no harm in finding out the truth. If these are false allegations then good, if not, then we need to find a remedy. On our own accord Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) investigation committees can be set up in every madarsa. Every government-funded Muslim educational institution has accepted such set ups, then why not in madarsas? Our madarsas are doing a great job of educating the masses since the times of yore, let us not allow the tiny number of pedophile perverts to ruin this legacy.
Very few victims of rapes/CSA like to come forward. Letâ€™s empower them, and begin a mass campaign in our madrasas in our schools to sensitize our children about good touch, bad touch. CSA is a ghastly crime; it haunts the abused children; forever, making it difficult for them to form meaningful relationships in life. The rape defines every experience of life, for them.
While blowing the trumpet of intolerance in India why are we being intolerant, when a la Rajeena says, her Ustad touched her wrongly?
Shouldnâ€™t we speak up about problems from within the community?
Let us probe the issue through authentically established committees with equal number of women in it and find out the truth. It may be so that CSA doesnâ€™t exist in madrasas, and that would be great. Shying away from the issue and attacking anyone speaking about it is similar to Bhakts carrying out hara-kiri in the wake of their idol being attacked. We object to their online abuse and play victim but our masks fall off when one among us, dares to speak. And if it so happens that the one who speaks out is a woman speaks out, then donâ€™t ask how â€˜braveâ€™ our men folk become. â€˜Onlineâ€™, That is.
Come on, folks, the world is laughing at us. If we want justice done to us, then we must impart it first to our people. And here the victims are young innocent children! Why donâ€™t you understand this simple Math? Our burying of already heavy heads in the sand like ostriches is worsening the situation. Letâ€™s not be ostriches.
Do we want horror stories to emerge from these places, to wake us up? Like it did in the churches and the cathedrals?
How many more need to be abused till you wake up and scrub your eyes and yawn and go online ranting ?
Do you realise our silence is helping the offenders rape more and rape with impunity?
How many more children , how many more lives lost and destroyed before you wake up?
(The author teaches English, dreams a lot and talks more than a lot. Read her at your own risk)