Following a series of outrageous cases that rocked the strife-ridden society, a young Kashmiris from different professions have come together to help contain the abuse and spread awareness about it. Under the banner of Aagoosh, these pro-active Kashmiris driven by the sense of social service are fast emerging as the ray of hope in the valley.
By Sadaf Shabir
Hina (name changed) was abused first time when she was only twelve. And the person who abused her was her father’s driver. This abuse continued for 8-long years.
“I didn’t tell anyone about this, until I was 20,” Hina shared her ordeal with The Indus Post. Battling reluctance to narrate her ordeal, she added, “I was so depressed that I started taking heroin.”
When her condition became miserable, her parents took her to psychiatrist. It was there they came to know about the abuse.
Since then, she has been on heroin, cocaine, had multiple broken relationships.
“And today, my parents call me wreck,” she rued. “And yes, I believe, it because they left me like a wreck with a driver, who kept raping me for 8 years. They never cared to ask what led me to be a wreck!”
Kashmir is particularly a conservative society where no one can openly talk about sexual abuse. And one can consider this self-imposed silence as a particular reason behind rise in sexual violence cases, particularly among children from last some years.
According to a survey conducted on child abuse, around 50 to 52% children are facing abuse in their daily lives across the valley. So it has become need of the hour to come forward and fight with this growing menace.
But then, how will you know your child is abused? What will be the behavioural changes? How will you get your child out from this trauma?
This is where Aagoosh comes as a ray of hope.
It’s a community of activists, writers, bloggers, doctors, lawyers and journalists who are striving too hard to educate people about child sexual abuse. The main motive of this initiative is to end this growing menace. And for that, they educate a child and his/her parents through the shuddering survivor accounts.
Many cases have been reported where children were sexually abused by teachers and preachers. So being a responsible member of a society, one needs to come out and stand firm to unmask these monsters who don’t even think once before ruining whole life of a child.
Child is the base of the society and if he is abused in his childhood, he carries trauma throughout his life which will affect his married life as well as the entire society.
We talked with one of the members of Aagoosh, Dr. Khawar Khan Achakzai, to know more about the initiative.
“A child can’t prevent abuse but a parent can,” Dr. Khawar said. “But in Kashmir, parents hide these cases and threaten their children that if they will talk about such things, society will be against them.”
It’s important to know that the children who are sexually abused are below the age of 15, so they won’t tell you about what is going on in their life. This is where the responsibility of a teacher or a parent comes, who can notice the changes in their behaviour and educate them.
Aagoosh trains teachers and parents, as they’re the first persons who’ve contact with children.
“We teach them about detection of sexual abuse in children, how to see the behavioral changes, how to ask child about it, how to report it,” the doctor said. “If a person will harass a child today, that person can harass more children of a society tomorrow. So we need to take action against such pedophiles.”
After organizing many awareness camps about the largely unreported abuse, Aagoosh is now looking for trained speakers who will make children aware about sexual abuse. The body of Samaritans is also planning workshops which will be conducted across schools to educate teachers about detection of sexual abuse in children. The campaigners are also exhorting lawyers and civil societies to come forward and demand for a strict law against child sexual abuse.
“I’m requesting those who have been harassed and abused to come forward and share their stories, so we can protect more children from being harassed,” the doctor said. “A parent who knows that his child has been abused shouldn’t try to bury the case, but should fight for him/her and consult psychiatric help to help him/her overcome mental scares.”
It was this much-needed activism which eventually helped somebody like Hina to hit a new routine in her abusive life. The knock appeared in her life, when “there was no way.”
The likes of her are now finding a new meaning of life by coming in contact with Aagoosh.
“Aagoosh is certainly a ray of hope to prevent such abuse,” Hina said. “For those who have been abused, I want them to come forward and speak. Don’t be silent. Debate against abuse is must.”
This Article was published in the July issue of The Indus Post Magzine