Despite recent events which attracted a great deal of attention from across the country, child sexual abuse is perhaps the least acknowledged category of molestation in Pakistan. Warranting immediate attention, as responsible members of the community, we can no longer brush the issue aside and naively assume it will never happen to our children. It has become pertinent to assure that not only are our children safe from the menace, but are also equipped to recognize and tackle sexual abuse, should the need ever arise.
Mr. Babar Bashir, Managing Director at Rozan Islamabad told Youlin that their organization’s approach is holistic and that their interventions are framed from a prevention and protection perspective. “All of Rozan’s programs are structured around one or more of their core strategies, including awareness raising, psychological support and referral, and capacity building and training.” Rozan’s core mission is to work for a society that is violence free. The idea stems from the fact that development and violence cannot coexist. Mr. Babar stressed that if we dream of a society that is violence free, we need to tackle the root causes and work with communities on ground to ensure that it is translated to the bigger mission of a violence free society. “Our organization has adopted an all-inclusive approach to deal with the problem; we work with groups and individuals, including women, men and children, as well as institutions, because even though we may engage communities and raise awareness regarding issues, but it also important to engage state institutions as they are the ones who take action and respond to the needs of that particular community.
Further elaborating on the issue of child sexual abuse and their emotional and mental health, Mr. Babar highlighted that their program for children and youth has also been linked to their program for women, men as well as the police because these areas are closely related. Aangan, instituted in 1992, was Rozan’s first program and is in its 23rd year as of now. The fundamental principle for undertaking this initiative was to postulate a safe environment for children in a violence-prone society where discussing child sexual abuse is considered taboo and as a result, is largely ignored. “Our people, even today, are reluctant to talk on this matter, and no organization has consolidated any data relating to this issue,” said Mr. Bashir emphatically.
Cases where a child has been sexually abused are neither effectively reported to the police, nor followed up by the parents. Additionally, no strong legislation exists to provide protection to the victims. Bearing these issues in mind, the program was developed to reach local communities and raise awareness among children about their bodies, and equip them with necessary skills to protect themselves from any sort of abuse.
Rozan has primarily focused their activities in areas around Islamabad. Specialized teams are structured for conducting a need assessment in communities and identifying areas where the organization can help and assist them. Once linkages with the community have been established, Rozan’s teams identify and mobilize groups of women (specially mothers), children as well as other important locals to raise awareness about child sexual abuse and on ways to ensure the safety of their children. This process involves holding community meetings, drills, group discussions as well as trainings. “Rozan has developed a lot of training material in relation to the subject, which includes animated cartoons and books in English, Urdu as well as Pushto.
Since each community has different needs and requirements, Rozan’s approach to the topic is very sensitive and community oriented. “It has never happened that communities respond positively as soon as we reach out to them, which is why we have to amend our approach to meet the needs and requirements of the specific community that we are targeting,” Mr. Bashir highlighted.
On an issue that is widely sidelined, organizations such as Rozan run full-fledged programs focused on child sexual abuse. Babar Bashir highlighted that when it comes to sexual abuse, not being able to speak about it openly becomes the victim’s greatest vulnerability and understanding the importance of proactively seeking the required knowledge and skills to communicate with children is one way of playing our roles effectively as responsible community members.
You may also like:
CSS School: Giving Hope to Street Children
(October 10, 2016)
Wall of Kindness: Compassion is Still Alive
(June 01, 2016)
Editorial: Edhi's Legacy
(July 10, 2016)
Creating an Impact with 'The Citizens Foundation'
(April 11, 2016)
'Rizq': Combating the Problem of Food Wastage
(November 04, 2015)
'Dar ul Sukun' and Sister Ruth: Saving Divinity in Man
(October 27, 2015)
Pakistan's Heroin Addicts and Dost Foundation's Lonely Crusade
(October 22, 2015)
Dr. Parveen Azam: Battling Pakistan's Drug Epidemic
(October 22, 2015)
Abdullah Ali - Giving back to Pakistan
(August 13, 2015)
Shaida Rahim - Giving Back to Pakistan
(July 23, 2015)
Revisiting the House of Light
(July 14, 2015)
The Launch of the Karim Khan Afridi Welfare Foundation
(June 11, 2015)
Zimmedar Shehri: Citizens Activism at its Best
(July 30, 2012)