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article imageReport: Sex abuse in Muslim families goes unreported

By Samuel Okocha     Dec 5, 2010 in Crime
Rabea, Zohra, Ibtisam and Saïda, are Dutch-Moroccan women who were sexually abused by members of their families. They decided to speak out after years of silence due to threats and fear of bringing ‘dishonour’ on the family.
According to Radio Netherlands, the four women were all around the ages of four or five when someone in their family started abusing them. They kept incidents of sexual abuses to themselves and never thought of going to the police.
“It’s so unnatural. If you’re beaten up at school or on the street, you go to your parents or your teacher. But this is your father. That goes against everything you believe in. I didn’t know how to talk about it and to whom I could turn. I was in danger of ending up in prostitution, but that didn’t happen luckily. Other people’s support and my belief in Jesus Christ helped to give me strength in the end.” said Rabea who was reportedly abused as a little girl by her father.
Zohra was reportedly raped by her cousin in Morocco when she was five. She finally spoke out after keeping her story to herself for years.
“I was staying with my aunt and my cousin was looking after me. That day is engraved on my memory – he robbed me of everything. My aunt caught us. She said she’d deny everything if I told my parents. Nobody would believe me. I lost trust in everything. You’re damaged by sexual abuse, but I’ve learned that you can recover.”
For Ibtisam, it was her brother that abused her. She was abused almost daily since the age of six until twelve.
“If I told on him, he would blame me. I would be killed or cast out of the family. I felt dirty, unhappy and rejected by my own family. I was very lonely. I was a girl that wasn’t alive. I was breathing but that was all.” The abuse stopped a year after Ibtisam threatened to tell on her brother.
Saïda had a different story. She was abused by several persons and this has affected her till date.
“I was abused from the age of four to 20 by different people. It destroyed me both physically and mentally. I felt afraid. I am still unable to be intimate with men, or fall in love. I did not have a normal childhood.” Radio Netherlands reports that Saïda has since set up a project for abused Islamic girls, after realising there are more girls like her who do not tell their stories.
The story goes on
Kristina Aamand works at an emergency shelter for young women in Denmark. The country is said to have a large Islamic immigrant population like the Netherlands. Aamand has heard lots of stories similar to the ones shared in this story.
“It goes on in immigrant and native Danish families. It’s just that we never look for it in the Muslim community. When I was being trained, I was told I didn’t need to learn anything about sex abuse in Islamic countries because incest was forbidden by Islam and didn’t happen. That was really naïve. Taboos, secrets, silence, shame and a closed community are almost a recipe for sexual abuse.”
More about Sex abuse, Muslim families, Sexual abuse among immigrants
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