Photo: Pixababy  (file photo)

 By Paul Zeitz

 

This is the Year to Stop Child Sexual Abuse

 

2019 can be the year when the world joins forces to end gender-based violence, child sexual abuse, and incest. The sexual abuse of children is shockingly common across the globe but continues to be shrouded in silence.


Following a 16-day worldwide campaign in November and December to end gender-based violence, child sexual abuse (CSA) and incest, a sustained push against those abuses is necessary.


The topic remains taboo in most homes, schools, workplaces, and faith communities, but the time for silence is over. And society forgets that while girls are most at risk, boys, too, are victims.


CSA encompasses a broad range of harmful behaviors toward children occurring along a continuum  —  from voyeurism to rape  —  usually taking place over an extended period of time. Perpetrators are frequently known to the victim, adding shattered trust to the child’s trauma. Survivors often experience grave physical and psychological trauma and social havoc, sometimes lasting a lifetime.


So why can’t we talk about it? And why don’t we treat it as the health and social crisis it is?


Our collective reticence, which comes from a place of adult discomfort, presents a serious danger to the world’s children.


As a survivor of paternal incest, I am working to relieve the suffering of those people who have been hidden in the shadows by demanding that we shake off our fears, discomforts and inhibitions and break the silence around these horrific crimes against the most vulnerable among us. I am speaking out and acting boldly every day going forward.

 

Breaking the silence around my own experience of intrafamilial sexual abuse was one of the most difficult challenges of my life. For almost forty years, I existed in various states of amnesia, denial, anger, and shame about what happened to me.


Finally, in writing my newly published memoir, Waging Justice, I found the words to express what happened to me, the courage to speak and write them, and a family and community who listened to me and placed me on the path to healing and dignity.


I was lucky. Most CSA survivors never have the opportunity to tell their stories, or to learn that the blame and shame is not theirs to carry. My mission has been to advocate for all children who have suffered — and the adults they become — to feel empowered. Their sexual dignity can be restored only when communities and countries take bold and transformative action to address this critical issue openly and boldly, without fear or inhibition.


In the United States, only 12 percent of CSA is ever reported to authorities. Imagine what that statistic looks like in more socially conservative cultures in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, where children are not only forced into sex but also to undergo genital mutilation and to serve as child soldiers.


Even among incidents that are reported, authorities often minimize or dismiss the abuse reported, blame the victim, and/or protect the abuser. Even when media and activists provide a spotlight, as happened all over the world at the end of last year, CSA persists, illustrating how deeply these secrets can burrow into opaque segments of society.

 

We have the opportunity to break the silence about global child sexual abuse and incest and help create CSA-free zones across Africa and the world.  It is within our power to create a global healing movement where we support each other to release the shame and fear around this topic.


With our voices and actions, we can cultivate a communal, collective responsibility to protect our children and all children from these crimes. We can support the healing of those in our communities who have been abused.


It is time for a transformation to end CSA and incest in our lifetime. If not now, when? All it takes is for people like us to help shatte the silence and demand CSA-free zones in every community, city, and country. Let’s ensure that each and every child is provided the fundamental right to dignity and compassion, as this is the true measure of who we are as people, living at this time and in this place.

 


Dr. Paul Zeitz is a physician, an epidemiologist, and award-winning advocate for global justice and human rights. He is author of the 2018 memoir Waging Justice: A Doctor’s Journey to Speak Truth & Be Bold

 

This is the Year to Stop Child Sexual Abuse

 

2019 can be the year when the world joins forces to end gender-based violence, child sexual abuse, and incest. The sexual abuse of children is shockingly common across the globe but continues to be shrouded in silence.

 

Following a 16-day worldwide campaign in November and December to end gender-based violence, child sexual abuse (CSA) and incest, a sustained push against those abuses is necessary.

 

The topic remains taboo in most homes, schools, workplaces, and faith communities, but the time for silence is over. And society forgets that while girls are most at risk, boys, too, are victims.

 

CSA encompasses a broad range of harmful behaviors toward children occurring along a continuum   —   from voyeurism to rape   —   usually taking place over an extended period of time. Perpetrators are frequently known to the victim, adding shattered trust to the child ’ s trauma. Survivors often experience grave physical and psychological trauma and social havoc, sometimes lasting a lifetime.

 

So why can’t we talk about it? And why don’t we treat it as the health and social crisis it is?

 

Our collective reticence, which comes from a place of adult discomfort, presents a serious danger to the world’s children.

 

As a survivor of paternal incest, I am working to relieve the suffering of those people who have been hidden in the shadows by demanding that we shake off our fears, discomforts and inhibitions and break the silence around these horrific crimes against the most vulnerable among us. I am speaking out and acting boldly every day going forward.

 

Breaking the silence around my own experience of intrafamilial sexual abuse was one of the most difficult challenges of my life. For almost forty years, I existed in various states of amnesia, denial, anger, and shame about what happened to me.

 

Finally, in writing my newly published memoir,  Waging Justice , I found the words to express what happened to me, the courage to speak and write them, and a family and community who listened to me and placed me on the path to healing and dignity.

 

I was lucky. Most CSA survivors never have the opportunity to tell their stories, or to learn that the blame and shame is not theirs to carry. My mission has been to advocate for all children who have suffered   —   and the adults they become   —   to feel empowered. Their sexual dignity can be restored only when communities and countries take bold and transformative action to address this critical issue openly and boldly, without fear or inhibition.

 

In the United States, only 12 percent of CSA is ever reported to authorities. Imagine what that statistic looks like in more socially conservative cultures in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, where children are not only forced into sex but also to undergo genital mutilation and to serve as child soldiers.

 

Even among incidents that are reported, authorities often minimize or dismiss the abuse reported, blame the victim, and/or protect the abuser. Even when media and activists provide a spotlight, as happened all over the world at the end of last year, CSA persists, illustrating how deeply these secrets can burrow into opaque segments of society.

 

We have the opportunity to break the silence about global child sexual abuse and incest and help create CSA-free zones across Africa and the world. It is within our power to create a global healing movement where we support each other to release the shame and fear around this topic.

 

With our voices and actions, we can cultivate a communal, collective responsibility to protect our children and all children from these crimes. We can support the healing of those in our communities who have been abused.

 

It is time for a transformation to end CSA and incest in our lifetime. If not now, when? All it takes is for people like us to help shatte the silence and demand CSA-free zones in every community, city, and country. Let’s ensure that each and every child is provided the fundamental right to dignity and compassion, as this is the true measure of who we are as people, living at this time and in this place.

 

###

Dr. Paul Zeitz is a physician, an epidemiologist, and award-winning advocate for global justice and human rights. He is author of the 2018 memoir  Waging Justice: A Doctor’s Journey to Speak Truth & Be Bold

 

Source:allafrica

 

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