In my line of work as a psychotherapist, I encounter a lot of people who have endured abuse (sexual, physical, psychological among others) in their childhood. They’ve never talked about it, kept it to themselves and endured years of shame and self-guilt.
Those who have become adults today can find the strength to process their trauma. I’ve been approached by trusted friends who’ve disclosed their abuse. I have clients who come to me sharing their narrative of being abused.
One common theme among them all is that they’ve taken the blame upon themselves.
It is difficult to hear of children talk about abuse. I often feel helpless in front of them as well as angry- why couldn’t something be done to protect the children.
One of the more common misconceptions that adults in Pakistan have is that abuse doesn’t happen in their homes. They think abuse is a foreign concept. One friend talked about how he was abused by his maternal uncle, and when he talked to his father about it, he was told he is imagining things and his uncle could never do this. The perpetrator is protected and the entire blame is shifted on the child.
Officials have said that there are 7 children abused every day in Pakistan. The fact that a lot of the abuse cases are not even reported can only make us imagine how that number may be even higher.
This is where a brilliant young man by the name of Ashad Qureshi comes in. He’s written a short illustrated book about a young Pakistani girl Sara. Although nothing happens to her, At school, Sara learns about her body and the importance of protecting her body. What is good touch and what is bad touch? What should Sara do if someone touches her inappropriately? Who are the safe people she should trust?
As a parent, it becomes their duty to look after and protect their child. An alarming number of abuse happens when a child’s own family member is the perpetrator- whether it’s an uncle, older cousin or a male relative.
This book serves as a perfect tool for parents to read to their child. The book is perfect for Pakistani children to associate with- they will connect with Sara. The illustrations are easy on the eyes and the script in Urdu is easy to read and understand.
At the end there is a page of circle of trust, where the child can write down the names of the people he or she can trust. Also, there is a short guide for parents to help them understand their children and how they can protect them, or to look out for signs if their child has been touched inappropriately or abused.
The book is currently published in Urdu and not in English and is available at the following places for Rs. 250/-