As a Muslim Woman, Itís My Duty to Speak out about the Sexual Abuse I Survived As a Child

The Independent
December 6, 2017

After a career in child protection my adult self sees his grooming efforts for what they were PA

From the outside, this man appears to the world as someone who cares about women. He is the director of a Muslim charity whose aim it is to improve lives, but they donít know how he destroyed mine.

Fleeting moments for him were the times he served me a life sentence. The day he imposed his perversion on me was my first sexual experience Ė he stole my own journey of discovery as a consenting adult. I was 13 years old.

When I was a kid I dreamed of being an archaeologist. I studied Hieroglyphics and dinosaurs in my spare time. I was so excited to see Jurassic Park, yet that darkened room was where he took my innocence from me. Images of dinosaurs now give me flashbacks. From then on every night he has climbed into bed behind me, cradling me, as I lay in terror.

After a career in child protection, my adult self sees his grooming efforts for what they were. I would bend down to pick up things he would drop on the floor. Iíd arise to his groin in my face. He took his time with every brush, every touch.

He would tell me the stories of the women he groped on family shopping trips. The breasts he brushed and the apologies he gave, to which women innocently replied, ďItís okĒ. His brother would listen to his stories giggling. Like a peach he was preparing me, waiting for me to ripen so he could enjoy my young fruits.

It affected my education. I would sob in bed till the early morning and then go to school on three hoursí sleep. My difficulties in school caused problems in my family. Later in life, the insomnia endured. It was never me and my husband in bed, it was always the three of us Ė Iím divorced now.

When I was sixteen I finally spoke out, I was made to swear on the Qurían the truth of what happened. I saw my body in flames of fear in the after-life. He swore on the Qurían too Ė his sister said that I made him touch me in those ways. All lies. I know that Allah sees all.

The Muslim world is very small and my path crosses with his more often than I would like. His mother once screamed at me that I was the pervert. He once goaded and harassed me at an event, behind the back of his family. He has shown no remorse for what he did.

But my faith is strong. Islam tells me that on the day of judgement, his good deeds will come to me, that I will be compensated for the hell of this life that he has put me through, and that his hands will bear witness to his actions, even if his tongue refuses to acknowledge them. Islam tells me the act of sex between a husband and wife is a blessed event when done by mutual consent and love. Islam tells me if I witness a wrong I must act in the interests of justice.

My imam told me that what he did was worse than murder, when you take someoneís life you send them to Allah, to peace and justice in the afterlife. What he did tortures me in this life. It is our duty to act and speak against these crimes. These men, with their actions, throw away any entitlement to respect. They say the path to heaven lies at the feet of your mother, and if we are a nation of brothers and sisters, then all women are our mothers.

I want to be clear this is a universal problem that can be perpetrated by anyone, of any faith. Anyone can be a victim. We have talked about the abuse in the Roman Catholic Church for decades, now we Muslims need to talk about this on our own doorsteps. These men canít hide behind their beards anymore.

I am not alone, and I urge every survivor to speak. One in five girls will experience sexual abuse before the age of 16. Thatís 20 per cent of the female population. I talk about my experience for my sisters. We no longer feel shame; we will no longer keep the dirty secrets of men. I urge Muslims to stand up and speak out against those in positions of power. You have done nothing wrong. This everyday occurrence needs to be in our everyday conversations.

Letís choose to change the narrative. Itís not #MeToo, as itís not a womenís problem. Itís a problem created by men. It should be #WhyDidYou?








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