Last November—in light of the “#Metoo” phenomenon—we talked about the continuing sexual abuse of women and the increasing number of women who muster the courage to SPEAK UP. Today, more women are coming forward and more programs on SAT-7 are giving them a forum to tell the truth about the inappropriate and demeaning treatment they have endured. More than a platform from which victims can tell their stories, programs like SAT-7 ARABIC’s “Speak Up” also host counselors in the field of sexual abuse, who offer advice and direct viewers to the help they need.
A recent episode of “Speak Up” featured a young girl who was regularly insulted and beaten by her father simply because she had the misfortune to have been born female. We’ll call her “M.” Her mother was also beaten for trying to defend her. When M. was molested by an uncle, her father blamed her and continued to abuse her. M. survived great despair and even an attempt to commit suicide. She says, “I grew up with the notion that I’m rejected by my father. He constantly told me that one day I’ll bring shame to the family. I couldn’t handle his beatings any more when I grew up. As a child, I didn’t complain but when I grew up I faced him and was obstinate with him.”
Her father’s solution was to marry her off to her cousin. While M. had hoped for a better life, her husband was also abusive. She prays that one day her husband will come to Christ.
“God has blessed me with children,” she says, “and I’ve decided to raise my daughter differently. God used this pain that I went through for the blessing of my children. God was with me all the time; He blessed me and my children despite all the pain I went through.”
The counselor on the program, Amany Shoukry, points out that children need love as much as they need physical care. Without it, they become empty. Their image of themselves is distorted and they don’t accept their existence.
The other important topic raised by this episode—incest—carries some disturbing statistics. Shoukry says, “There’s hardly any official numbers of girls who got sexually abused by family members because they’re afraid to speak out. However, from the workshops I did among groups of young girls, 40 percent said they were sexually abused by family members…. We teach our children to watch out for themselves everywhere they go, such as public transportation, schools, etc., but we never watch them inside the house with family members.”
We are saddened by M.’s story but thankful that she found the courage to tell it! As Women for Middle East HOPE, we wholeheartedly endorse and support programs like “Speak Up” that reach out to women and girls like M. and offer them encouragement, help, and HOPE!