Sexual Violence against Children

Written by: Huma Khan

Narrated by: Fozia Tahir

Zainab Ansari, a 7 year old child was on her way to Quran recitation classes in Kasur,
Pakistan, when she was abducted, raped, strangled and left in a dumpster. Her body was
discovered on the 9th January 2018. Autopsy has yielded that she was most likely held in captivity, where she was tortured. Criminal proceedings are underway and someone has yet to be charged for this. [update: The culprit has now been arrested]
Child sexual abuse is a horrific reality of the society we live in and Zainab’s case is just one of the few most recent reminders of this. Today’s podcast will focus on definitions, the extent of the problem, signs exhibited by children and further complications secondary to the abuse as well as a brief reflection on prevention and control strategies.
Definition
Child sexual has differing dynamics to those of adult sexual abuse in many parameters
ranging from disclosure differences to the symptoms exhibited. Lets begin by defining the problem. The World Health Organisation’s definition of child sexual abuse is:
 The involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend
 Is unable to give informed consent to
 For which the child is not developmentally prepared for
 Or that violates the laws or social taboos of a society
Sexual abuse in the case of minors is evidenced by any of the above activity between a child and an adult, or another child who by age or development is in a relationship of
responsibility, trust or power with the activity being intended to gratify or satisfy the needs of the other people. This may include but is not limited to activities like “intercourse, attempted intercourse, oral-genital contact, fondling of genitals directly or through clothing, exhibitionism or exposing children to adult sexual activity or pornography, and the use of the child for prostitution or pornography.”
Statistics
It is a challenging task to find out the actual number of sexually victimized children due to the fact that the prevalence reported varies across studies and data sources. The WHO in 2002 estimated that 73 million boys and 150 million girls under the age of 18 years had
experienced various forms of sexual violence. A meta-analysis conducted in the year 2009 analysed 65 studies in 22 countries and estimated an “overall international figure.” The main findings of the study were:
 An estimated 7.9% of males and 19.7% of females universally faced sexual abuse
before the age of 18 years
 The highest prevalence rate of CSA was seen in Africa (34.4%)
 Europe, America, and Asia had prevalence rate of 9.2%, 10.1%, and 23.9%,
respectively.
CSA has found to be associated with physical abuse at both younger and older ages and alone is accountable for about one per cent of the global burden of disease, but it is likely to be a risk factor for several other conditions like alcohol consumption, illegal drug usage, development of mental disorders, and spread of sexually transmitted diseases, which when pooled, are accountable for over 20% of the global burden.

India
India has a huge problem of child sexual abuse, in fact, it is home to 19% of the world’s
children as well as home to the worlds largest number of abused children. For every
155th minute a child, less than 16 years is raped, for every 13th hour child under 10, and one in every 10 children sexually abused at any point of time. Studies propose that over 7,200 children, including infants, are raped every year and it is believed that several cases go unreported. It is estimated by the government that 40% of India’s children are susceptible to threats like being homeless, trafficking, drug abuse, forced labour, and crime.

United Kingdom
It would be false to believe that the problem exists in poor and developing countries only.
Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is found across international borders as well delving deep within all socioeconomic boundaries.
 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused
 54,000 sexual offences against children recorded in 2015/6
 Over 90% of the abused children’s perpetrator was someone they knew
 Over 2900 children were identified as needing protection from sexual abuse in 2015

Risk factors
Risk factors have been identified, which can make children more vulnerable to abuse. These include:
1. Unaccompanied children
2. Children in foster or adopted care
3. Physically or mentally less abled children
4. Poverty
5. Armed conflict
6. Social isolation
7. Dysfunctional family life e.g. alcohol, drug dependency

Health consequences
The aftermath of child sexual abuse includes physical and mental complications. The
physical issues range from genital injury, genital discharge, bedwetting/soiling, anal
complaints (e.g. fissures, pain, bleeding), UTIs and STIs. Psychological and behavioural
issues can include behavioural regression, delayed developmental milestones, sleep
disturbances, depression, PTSD, poor self-esteem and/or inappropriate sexualised behaviours.
So what is the cause of the problem? Child sexual abuse is multi-dimensional in its cause and complexity, however, cultural and social norms supporting violence are a major issue. These can include the following:

a. Sexual violence being an acceptable way of punishment/power assertion
b. Sexual activity (including rape) being a marker of masculinity
c. Sex and sexuality being taboo as well as shameful for the victim, thus preventing
disclosure
d. Perpetrators having had a history of longstanding sexual abuse
Prevention and control of child sexual abuse
Management of victims of sexual abuse is also, therefore, quite complex and
multidimensional. It is important to remember, however, that sexual abuse is preventable and there are a number of steps that can be taken to keeping children safe. On individual levels this includes giving safe spaces to children (online and offline), equipping adults with knowledge and understanding to take action and empowering children to speak out about sexual abuse.
For children already having a history of abuse, there needs to be adequate support. This
includes the treatment of physical injuries, STI treatment, HIV prophylaxis, long term
counselling and/or psycho-educational intervention. Similarly, the frontline health staff need training in order to pick up the signs of sexual abuse, ask about it in a non-threatening setting and be competent enough to carry out the basic investigations and treatment. Disclosure in children is a multi step process and often is not easy for them to narrate. The health and forensic services must therefore work hand in hand to allow for sensitive information to be gathered from the child.
Education is a key element of control and prevention of child sexual abuse. The learning is imperative for children and families. The children need to be taught in safe environments, which touching and other behaviours are inappropriate and who to report to. They need to be reassured and mentally equipped so that they have a safe person with whom they can communicate.
Implementation of laws and policies is another minefield, which has to be taken into
consideration. Control and prevention of abuse cannot work if the laws and policies are not in place, and if society as a whole does not believe in the legal enforceability of these.

References
1. Guidelines for medico-legal care for victims of sexual abuse. World Health
Organisation. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/42788/1/924154628X.pdf
2. Changing social and cultural norms that support violence. World Health
Organisation. http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/norms.pdf
3. Child sexual abuse. National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child- abuse-and- neglect/child-sexual-
abuse/
4. Singh et al. An epidemiological overview of child sexual abuse. J Family Med Prim
Care 2014; 3(4): 430-435.
5. Wihbey J. Global prevalence of child sexual abuse. Journalist Resource.
http://www.journalistsresource.org/studies/./global-prevalence- child-sexual- abuse.

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A Fair Deal

Written and narrated by: Rabia Nazir

The act of inheritance has a long history in human race and is also not spare from the effect of religion. The laws of inheritance are diverse round the globe due to cultural and religious influences. For instance, In the Old Testament (Torah) it is said,

“Therefore, tell the Israelites; if a man dies without leaving a son, you shall let his heritage pass on to his daughter; if he has no daughter, you shall give his heritage to his brothers; if he has no brothers, you shall give his heritage to his father’s brothers; if his father had no brothers, you shall give his heritage to his nearest relative in his clan who shall then take possession of it.” (Numbers 27, 8-11)

Unlike other religions, a Muslim can generally do whatever he wants with his wealth during his life but his will have certain restrictions according to Islamic Law. In continuation of my series of podcasts about general misunderstandings about the ‘financial standing of a Muslim women’, today I am opening up the debate on the practices in our society regarding the inheritance rights of women. A great beauty of our religion is that woman ‘inherits’ and is also entitled to receive share from the property of her close male relatives such as father, husband etc. The Islamic laws of inheritance for women has also been clearly laid out in Surah Al Nisa:

(Allah commands you as regard to your children’s (inheritance); to the male, a portion equal to that of two females. [4:11]

Here, I shall also refer to an incident from the life of the companion Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas who was a wealthy man and had only one daughter. He was on death-bed and requested to bequest most of his wealth as charity, or a half of it. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) forbade him and only allowed him to give a third, and said:

“A third and a third is a lot, and it is better that you leave your heirs wealthy rather than leave them needy begging from the people. You will not spend anything seeking Allah’s countenance, but you receive a reward for that expenditure, even the morsel of food you put into your wife’s mouth.” [Bukhari #2591 & Muslim #1628]

As a general principle daughter have a right to half the share of their brothers or 2/3 if there are no brother/s with further differences depending on the configuration of the family and depending on the sect. Family law has been amended to favour and recognize women’s inheritance rights even if this is in conflict with social practices. The Constitution of 1973 broadly speaking also protects women’s inheritance and the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act, 2011 specifically prohibits women’s disinheritance with section 498 A (Prohibition of depriving woman from inheriting properly) and 498 C (Prohibition of marriage with the Holy Quran). However, inheritance rights though present in white and black are often denied due to socio-cultural practices. One of World Bank’s report on gender gap between policy and practice with respect to family law in Pakistan has shown that only 5% of women own a piece of land as compared to 45% of men in the possession of land.

The most common belief I have seen is that ‘dowry is the substitute or at least a part of the inheritance’ for a girl. The concept of dowry itself needs a separate discussion and I shall come to that in a later script.  I believe that we all have witnessed one of those high-budget wedding ceremonies at some point where a great deal of money is spent on a series of unnecessary formalities. For a middle-class family with two or three daughters, it is a heavy financial burden on earning hands to get them married even in a respectable manner. However, fear of being looked down upon by the society is the driving force to become a part of this practice.

Now, the other side of the coin shows an entirely different story. The girls who were once a part of well-established families and were married off like princesses were denied of their inheritance rights later. This is usually done by close male relatives from her own family including brothers, cousins or other male relatives. Because a Muslim woman is also entitled for a share in her deceased husband’s property, I have seen widows struggling with life due to denial of their inheritance rights by their husband’s families. If, unfortunately, she is not educated or skilled enough to support herself, how would she survive?

Our society is full of sealed lips who are deprived of their justified rights. These are lips of ‘happily married’ women who are afraid of speaking for inheritance because they may lose family-ties with their parental families in the time of need. They are silent to keep up appearances because it can jeopardize her relations with her in-laws who would tease her for having no respectful place in her father’s family. Getting legal advice and help from court is also a matter of shame and disrespect for them and their families.

I want to put this question forward that if it is ‘OK’ to spend loads of money on wedding in which clearly there is no financial security for the bride why is it not ‘OK’ for her to receive a legitimate share from the property of her father which will put her in a much more secure financial status?

It is perfectly fine to spend money on wedding if someone can happily afford it, however it should not be done with the expectation of ‘dismissing’ the inheritance rights of the bride. ‘Dowry is an option’ whereas ‘Inheritance is a right’. Let’s not substitute the ‘inheritance’ with ‘dowry’, lets replace ‘dowry’ with ‘inheritance’ and give our daughters and sisters a secure future. Household items given in the name of dowry will not support her on a rainy day, but a small piece of land will! Isn’t it a fair deal?

 

 

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Sexual Harrasment: Me too

Written and Narrated by: Fozia Tahir

The recent #metoo campaign against sexual harassment was an eye opening social campaign for me. Nearly 80% of the women in my friend list reached out to the world by saying they have been sexually harassed at work on in closely knit family and community setups. While a couple of my male friends showed their support not a single one of them said they had been affected by sexual harassment too. This shows that violence against women is worth all the feminist debates that ever existed.
What was also super inspirational about these young ladies in my friend list is that they have grown up to become stronger women and better people and are contributing towards several gender and world development orientated goals. Some of the stories narrated by my friends gave me Goosebumps. So here I take off my shoes, put my feet in the shoe of sexually harassed and assaulted women and scribble a poem in the first half of the article. In the next half I have tried to academically explain the issue of sexual harassment to inform myself and others about the topic.

I am sending you love, because me too

An old man I respected once cracked a dirty joke,
Day in and day out I received anonymous calls,
I ignored all of this and kept looking away,
Has any of this emotional abuse happened to you?
I am sending you love, because me too

Were you young and naïve playing alone in the wild?
Were you brave enough to stay out late in the dark?
In a family event full of people, did it happen to you?
‘The world is not a safe place’ do you now believe it’s true?
I am sending you love, because me too

How wise, and respected was your molester?
How filthy did you feel with every touch of that monster?
Did you dare protest or in silence choke back?
How guilty, how helpless, how shocked did it leave you?
I am sending you love, because me too

Did you come back home and throw those clothes away?
Did you have anyone to turn to and seek support?
Or were you clueless about how or where to report?
were you worried about how small they would make you feel?
I am sending you love, because me too

Did they ask you, ‘what were you wearing’?
Did they start the victim blaming?
‘You shouldn’t have been there on your own’ did they say?
There is no point in putting pebbles in the mud, stay away!
Is this what happened to you?
I am sending you love, because me too

Do you know of a local authority you could go to?
Or a national law that might support you?
any helpline, number your school or college shared with you?
Or did you survive those days without an idea of what to do?
I am sending you love, because me too

through it all, have you become a stronger person?
Are you worried for the future of your children?
Have you decided to take a stand and speak up?
do you believe in empowerment of men and women’?
I am sending you love because me too.

Sexual harassment is a serious social problem. The strategies most commonly used by women to cope with harassment range from avoiding or ignoring the harasser to reporting the incident.
There isn’t a single agreed upon definition for sexual harassment. Most researchers define it as “a psychological experience based on a sexually unwanted, offensive, and threatening behaviour at work”. Several authors have defined three types of sexual harassment,
Gender harassment
Unwanted sexual attention
Sexual coercion
Gender harassment (hostile, offensive, intimidating, and degrading verbal and nonverbal behaviour against women) is a type of subtle sexual harassment aimed at deterring women from transgressing male domains rather than being an expression of sexual attraction.
Unwanted sexual attention: Most evident types include verbal and nonverbal behaviour, such as persistent nonreciprocal requests for dates, letters, phone calls, deliberate touching, grabbing, sexual advances and propositions, and assault). This behaviour is perceived by the target as unwelcome, unreciprocated, and offensive acts of sexual interest.
Sexual coercion, also known as quid pro quo or sexual blackmail, is the most explicit and recognizable type of sexual harassment, where the harasser, a person in power, demands sexual favours from a subordinate worker in exchange for organizational rewards and benefits or threats of reprisal related to job prospects and conditions (e.g., job security and promotion)
Though both men and women may be exposed to sexual harassment, the literature on harassment is consistent in reporting that an overwhelming number of victims are women, and harassers are men. Thus, one out of every two to three women have experienced some type of sexual harassment or have been subjected to unwanted sexual behaviour.
The strategies most frequently used by women to cope with harassment range from avoiding or ignoring the harasser to reporting the offence. Unfortunately, none of these strategies has proven to be clearly effective in combating harassment at work, nor in raising the confidence of workers (i.e., potential victims) regarding their expectations towards their current employers. Studies have shown that women who report incidents of harassment are often threatened with reprisals for reporting the incident or making it public. A further strategy employed by women in coping with sexual harassment is confronting the harasser. Some studies have found that active confrontation benefited victims by empowering women, and by helping them to expose social inequality. The tendency to respond negatively to any woman who attempt to draw limits as to the behaviours of men, particularly if these infringe traditional gender roles, is enshrined and perpetuated by the sexist ideology. A good example is a study where women who challenged traditional gender roles and undermined male authority were found to be negatively evaluated by men.
Sexism has a role to play in it. The fact that men and women are different and certain acts by men are acceptable because of their gender fuels the issue of harassment. In general, sexism is associated to attitudes legitimizing violence against women, and would explain the nexus between hostile sexism and blaming the victim. Myths of sexual harassment, including beliefs such as self-victimization, that women enjoy acts of violence, these acts are only committed by mentally deranged men, or that women exaggerate their reports are common to all women.

Impact of Sexual Violence:
The impact of sexual violence goes way beyond physical injuries e.g.
The world may not feel like a safe place anymore
You no longer trust others, you don’t even trust yourself
You may question your judgement, your self-worth and even your sanity
You may blame yourself for what happened or believe you are ‘dirty’ or ‘damaged goods’.
You may struggle with anxiety or depression.
It is worth remembering that you are experiencing a normal reaction to trauma. Dispelling the toxic victim blaming myths about sexual violence can help you start healing. Remember that you are not to be blamed for what happened to you and you can regain your sense of safety and trust.
Sexual assault especially rape victims should not be blamed as rape is a crime of opportunity. Rapists choose victims based on their vulnerability and not on how sexy they appear or how flirtatious they are.
Recovery from sexual trauma takes time and healing can be a very painful, but with the right strategies and support, you can move past the trauma, rebuild your sense of control and self-worth and even come out the other side feeling stronger and more resistant.

No matter how hard life is on you, speak up, seek help, heal and help others heal too

 

P.s. A big shout out to Peter Bickerton for reading the poem and encouraging its publication.

Questions:
1. Could a woman asking a man for coffee be categorised a sexual harassment, specifically if the man is obliged to say yes to a lady?
2. Do men understand what rape does/means to a woman? Is it more than violence for them as it is for women?

References:

Herrera, M. C., Herrera,A., Expósito, F. 2017. To confront versus not to confront: Women’s perception of sexual harassment. The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context. In press

http://www.helpguide.org

Sapac.umich.edu

http://www.sexualharrasmenttraining.biz

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A working Muslim lady? Who owns the income…

Written and Narrated by: Rabia Nazir

Men and women have been created to run the cycle of life in harmony yet with diversity. While a Muslim woman has been freed from the obligation of breadwinning for the family, her core role is to strengthen the family ties; most importantly raising the off springs as good human beings as her contribution to the society as well as Islam. However, Islam does not restrict the women inside the four walls of the house. We can find many examples of working ladies from early era of Islamic revolution. Hazrat Khadeeja (R.A), the first wife of Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him), was a successful and in fact the wealthiest businesswoman in the Makkah at that time. Thus, Muslim women have right to get a degree, have a career choice, run a business, and own a property. They are also entitled for inheritances in the property of guardian. I shall try to cover all aspects (focusing on the false believes) associated with the financial standing of women in Islam in my upcoming podcasts. Today, I want to dust off massive misunderstanding about the right of a woman on her own income.
A Muslim women, no matter how rich she is, is NOT responsible for spending her income on her family. It is solely man’s responsibility to provide for the life essentials for his family (parents, wife, and children). While wife in principle is not obliged to spend, she can with her free will and if she does, it will be regarded as favour (ehsaan) for her husband. I will narrate an incident here for endorsement from the wife of `Abdullah ibn Masud (may Allah be pleased with him). She used to work and earn a living. On one occasion, she asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) if she could donate her money to her poor husband, to which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “Yes, and you will be rewarded twice.”(An-Nasa’i). In addition, wife is always entitled for the monthly pocket money from her husband even if she is working herself unless she willingly gives up on it or the marriage itself dissolves. It is also clearly having been said is Quran:

“Whatever men earn, they have a share of that and whatever women earn, they have a share in that.” (Quran 4:32]

Here our society shows a disappointing face where apparently, even in conservative families, women are supported to seek degrees and work but not many of them actually sum up the courage to speak about their access to their own salaries. I personally know many examples where all their income is snatched or at least she faces restriction on spending her money out of free will. The worst case scenario is physical and mental torture in case of refusal and making her to beg for each penny for basic personal needs. It is mostly practiced in labour class and lower middle class where family is financially dependent on few earning hands (including a women in many cases) but mature working couples are no exception to it. In my acquaintances, I have also known to examples where wife’s salary is credited in husband’s account and she is not allowed to maintain her own bank account. Limited income resources coupled with the intense desire to win the race of ‘social status’ lead to the need of controlling the spending rights of woman in poor. While the ‘so-called open-minded’ men are also afraid of financial independency of a woman. It makes me even sadder when I see well-educated men treating their daughter and wives like a dumb cow. While an educated working wife is a nice show-off to the society, at the same time they hypocritically believe that financially independency makes women strong in head. Such a women becomes difficult to control and hard to please. A girl who has earned a degree after spending at least 16-18 years and who have tasted out-door life during education and work should not be trusted enough to spend her money wisely?
This clarification comes with some other aspects too. Of course, the decision of pursuing a career is based on the understanding between husband and wife; it should be a good-will gesture from husband to his lady that he respects her desire to grow intellectually and financially. While many of men might not be ‘narrow-minded’, the fear of disapproval from friends and family greatly affects their thinking pattern. The career choice also matters a lot; academia and health industry based professions are happily acceptable for women in our society, whereas women in technical and trade oriented careers struggle much more and face greater challenges from male fellow colleagues and family members.
I have dared to open up the discussion on this sensitive aspect of a working lady. I have witnessed sufferings happening to my colleagues/friends and stayed silent thinking in my head that ‘It is someone’s personal matter’ or ‘It is their right way to fix their girls’. In my opinion, the real issue is the lack of authentic knowledge as well as the cultural acceptance of the rights for women that Allah has granted those 14 centuries ago. Not raising my finger to anyone but I simply accept my responsibility to raise my son(s) with respect for a women’s right and be a real man who is not afraid of his wife’s or daughter’s independence. If you are a young educated girl too, would you promise me the same?
We, at Meer-e-Karwan, thrive to ‘change the thinking’ about the least cared or talked about social aspects affecting our everyday lives. Please be open to share your experiences and opinions about today’s topic with us!!

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Student movements, police crackdowns and Kang’s Human Acts.

Written and Narrated by: Huma Khan

The mechanisms of coping with bereavement are complex in the most anticipated of situations and the effects of a death upon the living friends and family are often permanent. So in the context of death that is brutal, unnecessary and avoidable – acceptance and coping can become next to impossible with a lasting and disabling aftermath upon the living relatives and friends.

Weaving the stories of various lives affected by one death as well as giving an insight into her connection to the historical narrative – Kang poses a fundamental question to her readership – what is humanity? The novel is based on the backdrop of the Gwangju uprising of May 1980, where students and other civilians protesting for democracy were repressed and purged by the military – with the death toll argued to be above 2000.

This podcast is a brief introduction to the text of this novel, a historical background in which the story is set and more than anything – it is an imploration to the audience of Meer e Karwan to pick up this book and reflect. Reflect on the sanctity of universities as intellectual spaces; on the duty of Governing institutes towards its citizens; the moral accountability of external Governments in providing financial and arms to carry out these operations; and more fundamentally, reflect on what humanity is and its meanings in the contemporary society, where the modern world is riddled with conflict, war and disaster.

 

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World Suicide Prevention Day

 

Written and Narrated by: Fozia Tahir

Global issues are getting complex day by day. safeguarding peace, protecting human rights, establishing the framework for international justice, climate change, and refugee crises are some of the major challenges that the globe is facing at the moment. As time passes by the list is only growing and the issues are getting complex. The one that you are affected to directly grabs more of your attention than the others. For me in recent times, suicide has been one such issue.

Suicide is the 14th leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for 1-5% of all mortality. Because suicide is a conscious decision of an individual to end their life, developing methods to predict and prevent its occurrence in majority is majorly the responsibility of psychologists, psychiatrist and related metal health professionals.

But before we get into the details of this topic it’s important to understand what theories and models have been developed to understand the suicidal behaviour of people. Contemporary models of suicide are diathesis stress in origin. These models suggest that the negative results of pre-existing vulnerability factors are especially pronounced when activated by stress. There are models such as that of linehan’s model of emotional dysregulation which underpins dialectal behaviour therapy i.e. to help people suffering from mood disorders as well as those who need to change patterns of behavior that are not helpful, such as suicidal ideation. While, other theoretical developments have focused on an individuals’ appraisal system.

Interpersonal theory of suicide:

According to this theory when the desire for suicide merges with the capability for suicide this can lead to near lethal suicide attempts and are associated with thwarted belongingness such as feeling lonely and perceived burdensomeness that is considering yourself a burden and not seeing a way out of it.

Integrated motivational volitional model of suicidal behaviour:

This model conceptualises suicide as a behaviour rather than a mental disorder that develops through motivational and volitional phase. It suggests that there is pre motivational phase that could be due to the environment you live in, major life events, or diathesis leading to a motivational phase in which an individual feels defeat and humiliation and feels entrapped in the situation and this leads to suicide ideation and leading the individual to the volitional phase where they may develop suicidal behaviour..

I think both these theories are correct in different situations. The basic idea is that this behaviour develops over a period of time in an individual and can be taken care of if people around them notice their behaviour and help them with it.

vulnerability to suicidal behaviours: risk and protective factors

Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that individuals will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. Protective factors are characteristics that make it less likely that individuals will consider, attempt, or die by suicide.

Factors associated with suicide risk can be classified into four groups

  1. Personality and individual differences- e.g. hopelessness, impulsivity, perfectionism, neurotisicm and extroversion, optimism and resilience
  2. Cognitive factors: cognitive rigidity, rumination, thought suppression, autobiographical memory biasis, belongingness and burdensomeness, fearlessness about injury and death, pain insensitivity, problem solving and coping, agitation, implicit associations, future thinking, goal adjustment, entrapment
  3. Social factors: social isolation,exposure to death by suicide of others, assortative homiphilly, contagion, social transmission
  4. Negative life events: childhood adversities, traumatic life events, physical illness, deceiving adulthood, interpersonal stressors, psychological stress response

Major protective factors include the following:

  • Effective mental health care • Connectedness to individuals, family, community, and social institutions • Problem-solving skills • Contacts with caregivers

Role of faith

As I was thinking about prevention I thought at first of faith. As I am a muslim and suicide is forbidden or what we call “haram” in Islam.

In Surah 16 verse 16 is is said about death, “when their time comes they cannot delay it for a single hour,nor can they bring it forward by a single hour”. It is believed that the soul of a person who commits suicide doesn’t salvate and remains astray on earth.. that scares me and the idea that this life is a gift of god to me that the soul shall one day return to him is what I have learnt and believed in my whole life.. to see if other faiths say the same I read a little about each faith.

Christianity too believes that life is given by god and human beings are made in god’s image. Suicide is considered a mortal sin. The catechism asserts, “we are stewards, not owners of the life god has entrusted to us. it is not our to dispose off”.

Hinduism and Busdhism regards all life forms to be sacred and follow the principle of ahimsa of no harm. With the exception of prayopavesa in Hinduism.

According to a chief Jewish rabbi the value of human life is infinite and beyond measure so the worth of a single second in life is as high as that of seventy years.

Jews don’t bury the bodies in the same cemetery and don’t perform all the ritual for them.

Sikh gurus have as well rejected suicide considering it an interface in god’s plan suffering is a part of karma and should be accepted by human beings to make the best of situation life has given them.

Suicide Journalism

The next issue of utmost importance is the projection of suicides. Certain type of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide. Suicide is a public health issues and some suicide deaths maybe newsworthy but the graphics and the headlines should be thought through. The news should encourage help seeking displaying the suicide helplines at all times instead of showing the pictures of location or mourning. The audience should be informed without sensationalising the news. Such as instead of speaking to the police the issue of public health should be discussed to inform the audience and talk about cause and treatment options.

Warning signs: talking about dying and ways to kill, feeling hopeless, feeling trapped or having unbearable pain, being burden, increasing alcohol and drug use, acting anxious and agitated, mood swings, feeling lonely, sleeping too little or too much and so on

You should not leave such people alone,and keep sharp objects alcohol and toxic chemicals away from them

I hear news of young people taking their lives from where I come that is the northen areas of Pakistan and I think to myself what can I do about this? While I am sitting here I can only educate myself and everyone else about it. Get them to speak about it.

No matter how hard life is on you, you have to pick yourself up, make it meaningful, find the purpose of your life and if you haven’t found the purpose of your life yet then go and find. You have perhaps heard many people say this but you need to know what is it that you enjoy doing the most?

As you evolve in the process of finding the purpose of your life, you will find peace with things, events and people in your life and you will learn to heal if you were hurt..

We should heal slowly and steadily. We must all find peace in living and not in death.. so let us all unite together with the hope the suicides this year will be less than last year, that we will all listen to each other, understand one another, accept each other.. and not just that we will also encourage each other to live and we must all believe that the best is yet to come..

Let us not feel trapped.. let us enjoy our freedom while we may.

This year the world suicide prevention day is on the 10th of September. The theme for this year is ‘take a minute, change a life’..

So take out a minute..speak to people around you, people who you know and love and people you don’t know..as it is said everyone is a fighting a battle that we don’t know about so we should be kind to them.

Lastly thank you for joining us for this podcast we are hoping to be able to do more on this topic, if there is any way we can help you? If we can speak to you for a minute, or speak to a mental health expert on your behalf we would be happy to do that.. for others please take a minute and change a life

Thanks

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