Zainab and her rapist/killer Imran Ali.
Asifa and the men who drugged, raped, and murdered her.
Lastly, just a few days ago, the body of 9 year old, Saima Jarwar, was found in a sewer in Pakistan. Her parents reported her missing to the police; the same police who are trying to cover for the men who raped, tortured, and strangled her to death. Six men were arrested as suspect, including a watchman, a shopkeeper and the owner of the house where the sniffer dog entered and sat. This story hasn’t been circulating around and I’ve had a tough time finding more news on it, but here are a few articles: Source 1, Source 2, Source 3.
What can we do now?
Post about it!
Do your research and avoid fake news.
Find out the facts about the situation and refer to trustworthy news stations. I found the most trustworthy sources for news include BBC, NPR, the Guardian, Reuters, The Washington Post, etc. Here are a few separate sources to determine reliability of a news network: source 1, source 2, source 3.
Start discussions about these issues with friends and family.
Increase in conversations about this, especially when it is taboo, will allow other victims to come forward and to increase awareness on how child sexual abuse is NOT ONLY morally wrong, BUT ALSO socially unacceptable. I realize having conversations around childhood sexual abuse can be uncomfortable, but think about the discomfort and pain the victims like Zainab and Asifa went through… if we could all get over the discomfort of breaking the silence about these events, we can work towards preventing further discomfort, pain, and trauma faced by victims.
Hold the Perpetrators Accountable
I encourage you to shift the conversations from “the poor family and girl” to “those perpetrators did a terrible thing and they must be held accountable.” Shift the sadness for the victim to anger towards the perpetrator; because THAT will elicit more change in terms of preventative action instead of reactionary action. It is absolutely a tragic event that happened to these girls and we most definitely should grieve for them and their families, but WHO committed the crimes and why?
Let me give you another example: victims of child abuse – this phrase can be problematic because it removes the subject. We then focus on the victims and what we can do next. But wait. Who committed the abuse? Why are we not talking about them, what they did, how they are responsible, and whether they are being held accountable? Thus, I encourage you all to talk about the issues surrounding the perpetrators and how that is wrong; spread the word and make it increasingly shamed to discourage further acts. Let’s avoid stigmatizing and shaming victims, and work towards shaming and stigmatizing perpetrators.
Call People Out
In conversations with friends and family, call people out when they make sexist or victim blaming comments that contribute toward the acceptance of perpetrating sexual violence. For example, anyone who says that someone dressed a certain way is “asking for it” or someone hanging out with the opposite gender has “loose character” or that some child walking to her school by herself makes it “her fault” etc. The way a person dresses or acts is NOT an invitation for unwanted sexual advances, and a victim should not be blamed for the actions of a perpetrator. Instead of telling our daughters, sisters, girlfriends to stay home to protect them from such men, we should be educating and socializing our men to respect women and not make such judgments.
Get help and help others!
If you, or anyone you know, has been a victim of childhood sexual abuse (or any abuse!) please refer to this list of resources I have compiled. There are steps you can take, numbers you can call, and people you can talk to online to get the help, support, and reassurance you need. You are not alone.
Take physical action – donate or volunteer!
Lastly, if you would like to do more, you can always take further action and donate, volunteer, or work with foundations that help develop prevention programs toward educating communities about sexual abuse and help victims in need. Here is a list of some ways you can get involved or donate to causes that help fight child abuse and sex trafficking:
- Prevent Child Abuse in America
- Joyful Heart Foundation
- Global Giving- Stop the Silence
- Ansar Burney Trust International – Pakistan
- Save the Children – India
- Save the Children – Pakistan
- Vista Maria
If anyone is interested in writing about this topic or discussing this with me or the general public, do not hesitate to message me or comment on this post! Also, I’m looking for more organizations specifically working towards handling these issues among communities where sexual abuse is highly stigmatized. Please let me know of any charities, foundations, or movements that I can work with and mention here. Thanks.