In spite of the law, man’s greed for financial gain and sexual gratification will always be with us
By Qais Ghanem | Special to Gulf News Published: 20:00 November 19, 2013 Gulf News
Not a week goes by these days without our hearing a nauseating story about violence against or sexual exploitation of some vulnerable segment of society. It has become so universal that no specific nation or religion is now immune.
The common thread running through all these stories is that the perpetrators frequently occupy positions of trust and the victims often look up to them for care and protection. For example, the betrayal of trust between doctor and patient, priest and parishioner, landlord and tenant, police officer and citizen, teacher and pupil, and adult and child. There is also an equally severe and blatant form of exploitation: That of men against women, particularly in those societies which accept and practise the concept that women, at any age of maturity, are inferior to men.
|Female Genital Circumcision|
In the predominantly Hindu country of India, rape has become so commonplace that only the most horrific cases make headlines. Most people have heard about the barbaric gang rape and murder of the medical student travelling on a bus with her male companion. Despite the national outcry, this very common crime continues unabated.
Just six months after that gang rape incident, a six-year-old girl went to the toilet and ended up in critical condition — the victim of gang rape. Ironically, statistics have shown that the conviction rate for rape cases has decreased from 46 per cent to 26 per cent due to apparent lack of interest by the authorities.
Even immigrant countries in the West are not excluded. In Canada, three women in an Afghan family were drowned in an episode of honour killing. In the UK, there is also the well-documented case of Banaz, a Kurdish girl, who was murdered by the male members of her family because she left the abusive husband they chose for her — a husband who repeatedly raped and brutally beat her. Initially, she kept away from her family but, when eventually looked for their support. But they simply advised her to try to be a “better wife”.
|Shafia Girls and Wife Drowned in Zina - Honor Killing|
Human-trafficking is the world’s fastest-growing industry, generating estimated revenues of $32 billion and involving hundreds of thousands of females a year who generally come from Africa, Asia, South America and the poorer European countries - in other words, the vulnerable poor.
Closer to the US, the abuses against women occur in prisons. In an article published on December 21, 2012, Eleanor J. Bader states that women prisoners endure rampant sexual violence. One could imagine that with the proliferation of so called ‘private prisons’ in the US, this heinous crime by those entrusted with the safety of prisoners will only increase.
By far the largest and most vulnerable group of victims is children. It seems unimaginable that sexual abuse has been perpetrated against those as young as five. The abuse of indigenous children in Canada, by the church, is a shameful chapter in the history of this otherwise civilised and fair nation.
Read about Canada's Residential School system here and here.
More recently, a member of the Australian parliament presented the findings of an inquiry into child abuse by religious and other non-government organisations, stating that the children involved “were betrayed by trusted figures in organisations of high standing and suffered unimaginable harm”. Last week, in his article, ‘The Child-Rape Assembly Line’, Christopher Ketcham described the systematic abuse of children by members of the Jewish Orthodoxy. The story is nauseating and the apparent impunity is difficult to believe. The worst part is perhaps how the community dealt with the whistle-blower in this case.
The most recent example of betrayal of the vulnerable comes from Canada’s Project Spade, a three-year, worldwide investigation involving child pornography, mainly of boys between the ages of five and 12. Happily, the findings led to 386 children being rescued and 341 people arrested worldwide. Sadly those arrested included school teachers, doctors, nurses, pastors and foster parents.
In spite of the law, man’s greed for financial gain and sexual gratification will always be with us. We need to do a lot more to reduce the vulnerability of the victims. The most effective way, in my opinion, is to reduce poverty, eliminate conflict and expose the perpetrators.
In fact, the most effective way to reduce child abuse and child sexual abuse is by releasing God through prayer. The monstrous size of this evil is beyond human manageability, it will take an act of God, if not several acts of God to make a dent in this atrocity of human fleshly sin.
There are many NGOs working to diminish the size and horror of this evil. They need prayer support and financial support. Dr Ghanem's assertion that poverty is a key element is, of course, true. We can help with that by supporting NGOs like World Vision or Save the Children. Do you have at least one child in a third world country that you are supporting.
It's amazing how little it costs and how much they benefit from the help. Please consider sponsoring a third world child before Christmas. You can make a huge difference in their lives and if you have children, they can make a huge difference in your children's life. Please prayerfully consider this.
Dr Qais Ghanem is a retired neurologist, radio show host, poet and author. His novels are Final Flight from Sanaa and Two Boys from Aden College. His latest non-fiction work is My Arab Spring My Canada and his combined English/Arabic poetry book is From Left to Right.
Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@QaisGhanem