Rashdi Shah, a facilitator for the Lamplighter Movement in Pakistan, is running a center to teach underage kids, especially girls, how to protect themselves from the evils of sexual abuse. He has asked for our help and our advice in this extremely serious problem, especially in his area of the world. His center is teaching and guiding the youths in religious extremism. He is teaching them Christianity as he thinks Jesus is the best peace maker of humanity.
The following is the latest information on child sexual abuse in Pakistan.
According to Gulf News.com, child sexual abuse in Pakistan is on the rise and according to reports published in various newspapers, the number of such incidents has jumped from 1,746 in year 2017 to 2,327 in the year 2018 registering 33 per cent rise in a year.
According to a report titled “Cruel Numbers 2018” published by a non-government organization (NGO) working for the rights of children, Sahil, Punjab with 2,403 cases of child abuse has remained ahead of other provinces. Sindh with 1,016 comes second.”
Sindh is where Rashdi is from.
Child abuse is a broader term and the NGO categorizes it in four parts, namely, sexual abuse, abduction, missing children and child marriage. In almost all the four categories, the abuses result in child sexual exploitation.
The overall cases of child abuse reported in papers have increased by 11 per cent in year 2018 as compared to 2017, which means more than 10 children are abused daily, he said. The trend of more girls being victims than boys in abuse cases was not consistent in all categories; the report found that girls were more vulnerable to child sexual abuse than boys in the age brackets of up to 5 years and 16-18 years while boys were found to be more vulnerable to sexual abuse in the age brackets of 6-10 years and 11-15 years
This information is what Rashdi has to work with on a daily basis. He is desperate to find ways to help the girls he is working with. In the years that I have worked in and written about child sexual abuse I have learned a lot. The main ways to help girls to protect themselves from male advances that accelerate into rape, beatings and oftentimes abductions for sex trafficking that I can offer are:
- Most child sexual abuse victims come from a place of low self-esteem. Few have grown up in a house filled with love and wisdom, kindness and caring. Trying to improve their self-esteem is paramount. It is not easy to feel good about yourself when the primary message you receive is that you are not okay. There are ways to build your self-esteem. Begin writing down positive affirmations such as “I need to believe that I deserve the best life has to offer: If I don’t believe that, I need to change what I believe, or I can trust myself, I am wiser than I think; The more choices I make, the more alive I feel. The more alive I feel, the healthier my choices; I need love, but I don’t need destructive love and so on. Put them on a mirror and read them every day. Think of your own. The mirror acts as a tool to help you program your inner self with these new messages. Working on building your self esteem must be done on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. If you are at the center, sit with other women and have Rashdi teach you how to think of other positive affirmations that you can teach to each other and repeat frequently.
- As females, it is natural to want the attention of males. That is part of what life and creativity is all about. But we want only to have attention from males who treat us with respect. If they don’t, walk away. You don’t need anyone in your life like that.
- This is your body and only you have the right to say what is done with it and who you will allow to enter your space. Learning how to set boundaries is imperative. Practice saying NO in front of a mirror on ways to protect yourself from unwanted advances. I used to wear a shirt when I was in recovery and married to my third abuser that said, “What part of No don’t you understand? The first time I wore it in front of him he asked why I was wearing it. My response? “Because I can.” He started backing off on his abuse, most of which was sexual.
- If you can, keep a journal. Read it back to yourself frequently so that you are aware of what you are writing. This is your inner self trying to teach you wisdom. Listen!
- Remember HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Whenever you are having difficulty coping, remember to check this list. If any one of these is present, taking care of those needs will bring immediate emotional relief.
- Have a buddy to call on when you are in danger or are feeling afraid. Everyone needs at least one person to trust to reach out to. If possible, start a small group of your closest friends and get together frequently to reinforce the things you are learning at the center and with what Rashdi is teaching you.
- Believing in God is paramount in healing and in feeling safe. Whatever your choice of a spiritual path, whether it be Christianity, Buddhism, or Jewish all believe in the same God. Religious extremism can be a dangerous thing. Religious customs can be a solace for humans, addiction to them can be dangerous. When used for power and control they are insidious.
I hope these bits of wisdom are helpful for the women in Pakistan.
Here are four tips from Steve Kardian, a martial-arts expert and former police officer who also consults for the Office of Public Safety at the New York State Division of Criminal Justice.:
- Pay attention to your surroundings
When walking alone, women should avoid being distracted and should pay attention to their surroundings. Kardian recommends scanning areas that may look deserted but could be harboring predators, such as parking lots.
“Be aware of your surroundings — don’t be on your cellphone when you’re walking to your car,” he said.
Women also should present strong body language and walk confidently, said Melissa Soalt, a martial-arts expert who teaches self-defense techniques.
“Predators will test your boundaries to see how close they can get to you,” she said. If a women feels threatened, she should lower her center of gravity, stand with her feet apart and knees slightly bent, and say “no” or “back off.”
Soalt also recommended that women practice using their peripheral vision. “Too often, we focus too much on what’s going on in front of us,” when threats could be lurking from all sides, she said.
- Listen to your gut
We all have it — that little voice inside our head that tells us something isn’t right. The problem is that people don’t always listen to it.
“Women tend to be more forgiving, allowing strangers to talk with them — putting the good gift of intuition aside,” Kardian said.
But that’s how predators get close to you.
“Predators are good liars — they’re good at staging a false reality,” Soalt said. They lower your guard, gain your trust and get close to you.
If you feel uneasy in a certain neighborhood, or if someone gives off a creepy vibe, it’s likely that your gut is telling you to get out of there.
- Have a plan
When a person is physically threatened, fear can cause a surge of adrenaline to rush through the body, but this could cause a person to freeze up and panic.
Kardian suggests having a plan of action in place.
“You can’t formulate a plan when you’re in a state of panic,” Kardian said. “But if you already have a plan set in your head, you’re more likely to react well under severe distress.”
He said a big part of a predator’s game plan is the element of surprise. The best defense is to come up with a couple of surprises of your own.
“Every predator has two fears: getting caught or getting hurt,” Kardian said. “When you don’t act as the predator expects you to, you ruin his plan.”
One way to fight back is to be verbal. “Let them know you know they’re there,”he said. “Calling them out might cause them to back off.”
And even if a predator says, “Don’t scream or yell,” women should still be vocal,” Kardian said. “Yelling or screaming will attract attention, which can save your life.”
But what if he’s got a gun or a knife?
Every circumstance is different, Kardian said. “If it’s a theft, that may play out differently — you might want to give him your wallet,” he said.
But if an assailant wants you to go with him somewhere, that’s different.
“You have to do everything in your power to prevent a predator from taking you to a secondary crime scene,” Kardian said. “Once he gets you alone, there may be no way to escape. So if that means yelling or screaming, do it.
- Fight to escape
Although women can be strong, men have certain physical advantages over women, including upper-body strength, height and body frame.
“Men who physically assault women will use their size, strength and terror tactics to subdue a woman,” Soalt said. “The goal to fighting back is to escape.”
Soalt said women should not struggle against an assailant’s greatest strengths. “You’ll just exhaust yourself,” she said.
Instead, wait for the moment when he’s distracted.
“A man will close in on your space, so use that close proximity to strike back,” she said.
Use simple, primal moves — strike the eyes, throat or groin — or use the heel of both of your palms to clap him hard on both ears, which will disorient him.
“Any move you make has to be 100 percent so you have a chance to run,” she said. “Make sure it’s explosive.”
I don’t know how many have access to the Internet but there are sites that can give you more help. Here is a link to one of them: