KABUL (SW) – Most of the children made subject to sexual abuse remain unaware about the crimes committed against them by people generally pretending to be nice and humble.
Fariba (pseudo name), one of the victims of sexual harassment, now 23, recalled her childhood bitter experience. "I was six-year old when my mother sent me to a carpet weaving workshop near our house. We had no economic problems, but my mother did not want me to wander around in the streets. Since I had not started school, the best activity my mother chose for me was carpet weaving".
"The master there was a man of around 30 years of age. He would always touch my private parts on the pretext of teaching me carpet weaving, but I was not at all comfortable. I could not tell this to my mother because I was afraid. Every day, when I told my mother that I was not going to the workshop she would beat me for escaping the workshop to play in the streets. "
According to Fariba, the lack of awareness about child abuse in the family forced her never talk to anyone again.
Fazilah, a mother of three, believes the awareness of child abuse should first be spread among parents at home, and in the next step in schools.
"In my opinion, the awareness raising should begin at the kindergarten level so that children can understand and know the issues, and when they are attacked they must immediately inform their teachers and family members, and in particular their mother”.
In views of Dr. Emal Safi, head of the Kabul Mental Health Center, children are generally abused by adolescents and young people often within the extended family, and by those who are always in the same environment as children, also causing serious psychological problems. He stressed parents should teach their children that they can share the matter with their parents if they are exposed to sexual abuse.
"Children are often abused within their families. And, this misuse may be physical or sexual. Either way, it creates enormous mental problems for them in different stages of their lives."
In many countries, a lot has been done to raise awareness among children and families about their privacy through cartoons and animated movies.
In conversation with Salam Watandar, Kamal Sadat, director youth affairs at the Ministry of Information and Culture, said many programs have been organized in cooperation with youth volunteers to inform parents, children and teachers. He lamented due to financial constraints, the MoIC has not been able to spread awareness via cartoons or animations.
He said such innovations would prove handy in country like Afghanistan where many people are still illiterate.
We wanted to have the views of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission on this matter, but Bilal Siddiqui, spokesman for the AIHRC said this public office has ‘black-listed’ Salam Watandar for publishing reports about president directing changes in the leadership of the AIHRC.
The law prohibiting sexual harassment of women and children was approved by the Wolesi Jirga (lower house) by a majority of votes in 2006.