With an increasing number of child abuse cases coming to light recently, how can children in Pakistan see the warning signs? In a conservative society like Pakistan’s, many parents shy away from talking about the very real dangers that children face at the hands of strangers and even relatives as they grow up. Something needs to change here.
The subject of child abuse needs to be tackled, in a way that youngsters are aware of how they can recognize and ask for help in such cases.
This was the idea behind author Ashhad Ahmed Qureshi’s new book. His new book Mera Jism Mera Hai (My Body is Mine) aims to teach children about consent and how to spot potential predators.
Getting people to open up about the taboo topic of child sexual abuse can be hard in Pakistan’s conservative society. Yet the need to address the issue and educating children remains. This book aims to do exactly that.
The book even has culturally sensitive illustrations to teach children about their ‘no-go zones’ and other behavior that’s not acceptable.
Apart from Ashhad, the book contains helpful illustrations from artist Aziza Ahmed.
The all-ages book explains everything with helpful illustrations and terminology.
The children’s book will help children and their parents identify child abuse and potential predatory behavior. The book even provides free legal and mental health resources for children and their guardians.
How did the book come together?
What prompted Ashhad to take up this quest? Ashhad says that his own experience and journey to becoming a survivor is a huge part of why he wrote this important book. The author told Images;
“As a child, I was sexually abused for years by someone in my extended family. I remember how confused and helpless I had felt.”
That’s why he chose to write the children’s book in Urdu to ensure the widespread reach of the publication. Since society often dismisses these victims of sexual abuse, the book provides a checklist to identify behavior that is a sign of such trauma.
“In more than 80% of the cases, the perpetrators are known to the victims, usually family members or acquaintances, … The truth is that this issue is so heavily stigmatised that those who do speak up are speaking truth to power.
They often risk losing everything, sometimes even their own lives (honour killings), so we, as a society, really need to think critically about what it must take for someone to disclose their experiences.”
A book like Mera Jism Mera Hai needs to become a mandatory part of the academic curriculum. It could be an important step towards curbing child abuse in Pakistan.
You can buy the book online for the low price of Rs 275 right now.