Child sexual abuse victims: abused and neglected [edited]

Friday, February 22, 2008

It was several years ago. I was waiting outside the door to our house waiting for my young daughter to be ready for school. I was considering the route to school that we'd have to take to keep my feet dry as I push my bicycle through the mud-puddled streets when a friend tapped my shoulder and began to tell me about the hot topic of the day. A couple of Maldivian teachers had been caught sexually abusing young girls in their private tuition sessions. To my horror one of them was my daughters teacher; Naseem sir! I was so horrified that I told my wife that our daughter was not going to school for a few days till we could be sure that our daughter was not a victim herself.

There was no help offered either by the school or any organisation to kids like my daughter, to see if they had suffered themselves. No assessment of counseling to help them get over the trauma of listening to stories of their best-friends having been made to do disgusting things by their teachers!

I took my daughter to Central Hospital to get help for her. I thought she needed more than the support we could offer ourselves. I had real fear that my daughter might have been a victim. She had been behaving very differently lately. She easily cried about things that happened at home, she stayed unusually quiet for her usual self, she ate much too little for her mothers liking and she had stopped socialising with her friends. But most frightening of all she had started to make a fuss about having to go to school. All that just a few weeks before the news of Naseem sir and his accomplice's sickening stories became public.

At the hospital there really wasn't anyone to help us. Dr Mohamed Ahmed's name was mentioned to us. We took our daughter to his clinic which used to be house at his residence just across the street from the hospital. He wasn't particularly helpful. He asked us to give our daughter a couple of pills, something to relieve the "transient depressive mood". It probably didn't help, but we followed his instructions carefully. It was years later with our daughter preparing for her O'L exams when she confided in her mother that she was "touched" by her teacher! To our horror, by then the scum-bag was back in Male' and nearly freely going about his life; Our daughters life destroyed by an experience that would almost certainly scar her for life.

It is worrying that the number of reported cases of child sexual abuse in Maldives has been in the rise in recent years. The past few years have seen horrific tales of sexual assault on children of either gender; especially at the hands of those people who are entrusted with their welfare.

I will not be discussing the different cases, why it is on the rise or why the punishment for such terrible crimes is so meager. That needs to be discussed and is one important area of social protection of child welfare that is neglected in Maldives. What I will be touching on, and hoping to open a discussion, is the lack of proper assessment and support mechanisms within our medical services to help those who have been victims of these grave crimes.

The situation has indeed improved since the times of my daughter. A child welfare service is now established at the ministerial level at Gender ministry, child protection services are being decentralised to the atolls, IGMH has established a Family Protection Unit to help improve identification, reporting and early case management and an improvement in the publics  understanding of the need to report and seek help.

All that said, our children are still not receiving adequate care and treatment to get over the effects of these atrocities committed against them. Many of these kids are never counseled at all. Their families are not taught about the danger signs that need to be looked for and certainly little if any is done to help kids get back to "being kids" again!

My daughters friend who were subjected to the most severe abuse lost their way in school, were unable to integrate into society and became social outcasts themselves. At least one of them has significant criminal records; especially linked to sexual criminal conduct.

I would be the first to agree that even with the best treatment and care a few children may never return to "normal" childhood, but with little or nothing done the chances are that our unfortunate kids are further "abused" by a system reluctant to invest in proper care for kids under going such traumatic and forever scarring experience.

The carers currently working in the field are too young themselves, having little more than a year of work experience (within our severely inadequate system) with no professional medical or psychological or psychiatric assistance or supervision. Fair enough, a psychologist has recently started clinical work at IGMH and a couple of Psychiatrists do lend their support to the management, but their involvement is insufficient. More than that, their skills and training don't necessarily give them the required skills to actually work in this very sensitive area. There isn't a single child psychiatrist in the country!

There are many areas of need in our health system. Building and expanding ICUs, improving health care provision in the atolls etc...are all important and perhaps even high on the priority list. But with the current trend of increasing child abuse and other forms of domestic violence isn't it time that we get better help available for our kids who do fall prey to Pedophiles in regaining their childhood innocence and providing them a way back to a life that is not scarred?

Report submitted by Mubeen Jaleel.


Maldiveshealth said...

perhaps establishing a good mental health system?

Maldiveshealth said...

Mental health laws?

Anonymous said...

stop the doctors molesting children..any juicy stories?

Anonymous said...

to the last anonymous:

lot of the guys commenting are wise, but u are otherwise!

Anonymous said...

as if all the comments on other stories are very wise...huh!

Anonymous said...

everything here is bullshit most times.. people sayin whatever they want abt people.. unsubstantiated. so i also can say that MMW all have orgies togethere and come up with most stuff... hehhe

Anonymous said...

sorry for the author who wrote this story..cos it looks like nobody is payin attention to this...rangalhu vaahake liyuneema vaa goi dho MMW...mihaaruves doctarunna behibala...varah comment annane...MMW now u see the attitude of people we serve..
anyways sorry for the author, hope someday the system is gonna be fixed!!

Anonymous said...

basically maldivians have nothing else to do but bitching about others. thats our tradition.

we don't want things to change to good. if it does, we are afraid that there may not be things to bitch about. then we shall bitch about our own self!

Anonymous said...

varah molhah olhu vaalan ulhey ne mi commnt kuraa beyfulhun. Keep focused.

Anonymous said...

olhuvaalashey??..if thats the case why isnt this story not gettin any comments/ideas???..last anony, ure tryin to divert our attention here!!so get real and accept it!!!

Anonymous said...

Does this happen because f Maumoon? huh. No one takes responsibility. When it happens to your daughter then you start chasing everyone and bitching the whole system. For god sake ar'nt we all humans. Done we have ethics? To controll the things between our legs do we need systems. Wake up everyone.

Anonymous said...

This happens because of inherent Maldivian mentality and tradition..Maldivians have always abused children from antiquity,traditionally ppl get married at 13or 14 year...its a sort of a tradition...its a unspoken taboo but its very prevalent....they think young girls are more pleasurable more fun....Traditions die hard it'l take a generation in the meantime punishment for child abuse should be increased in par with European states..Dhivehin,meehun hama all for increased punishment.