A six year old with an STD

Published: October 21, 2010

Abused children may not report the incident

I am interning at the Ob/Gyn department nowadays and nothing has been as psychologically taxing as this rotation.

Everyday hundreds of poor women come to the out-patient clinic for consultations, each with a unique problem of her own.

Yesterday, however, a little girl  with big brown eyes and shabby clothes entered the clinic.

She was barely six years old and had a cape tightly wrapped around her shoulders. The lady who came with her was her paternal aunt who told us that the girl was complaining of a rash around her genitals. On examination, it turned out to be  genital herpes – a sexually transmitted disease.

The consultant probed her and tried to reach a conclusion about how she had contracted it. She tried her best to somehow make her talk and find out whether she has been assaulted, raped or sexually abused. The kid, with those scared, big, brown eyes did not want to speak up. Her aunt didn’t know any better.

On further questioning, it turned out the child’s mother was pregnant with yet another child. She had three daughters and three sons already and didn’t deem it fit to visit the clinic with her daughter. Another of the child’s relative told us that the mother didn’t want daughters, continuously neglected them and was pregnant hoping for another son. I was flabbergasted, sad and shocked at the sheer absurdity and stupidity of the mother.

We admitted her and started treatment. The shrill screams of the child when we touched her to administer the medicine still haunt me. She was begging the doctor to stop. My mind refuses to let go of her face. All I can think of is the physical and psychological damage that the child has suffered and will continue to suffer throughout her life. Now that her family knows, she’ll be stigmatized further. I can’t seem to let go of how viciously “luck” has turned out for her.

I know this case is not the first of its type and that a lot of them go unnoticed yet I couldn’t believe my eyes. I also know that, as a doctor,  I have to get ‘used to’ all sorts of unimaginable things. I have to see more of them – still my brain refuses to register the fact that a human could turn into an animal so low.  How could someone let go of all inhibitions and harm a child like that without thinking twice about the repercussions? Without even considering the fact that another innocent human is being crushed?

Bushra Maheen Rahman

Bushra Maheen Rahman

A doctor from Peshawar who writes, blogs at www.pistaye.wordpress and tweets @MaheenRahman

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • parvez

    A very powerful write up, you have made my head spin. Child abuse is not new and not restricted to Pakistan.
    The government should have forcefully implemented birth control measures without upsetting religious feelings some 40 years back when the mullah brigade was still in its infancy. Even then it would have been a difficult task but then nation building is never easy.Recommend

  • USL
  • Hamood

    Sick, perverted people live all over the globe, in fact there are more sexual predators in USA than anywhere else. These people are wired differently and what you and I consider cruel and abnormal is not such to these people. They should not be allowed to walk freely in society and should be confined to a rehabilitation facility. In USA we have child protection and predator laws and all registered offenders are known to authorities. Alas in Pakistan there is no such thing and it will take decades for us to get to this point.Recommend

  • babruk

    sickening. where is the mullah brigade. no demonstration over such perversions? probably they would stone the little kid or they would force purdah on even six year old to prevent them from ‘luring’ men.Recommend

  • Amna

    Excuse my ignorance, but is there any other way that herpes can be transmitted? through blood, saliva etc? I am hoping for this poor girls sake that it could be something else….can it?Recommend

  • R. Querieshi

    That is indeed sickening and poor background of the family is one factor.

    Lets not care about what world will think about us. Lets take notice of such crimes and put an end to chind abuse. Lets atleast make it hard for paedophiles and make them think many times (of strict laws and being caught) before they target a child. Recommend

  • Live and learn

    Heartbreaking. Hope the girl recovers soon and overcomes the psychological trauma.Recommend

  • Maryam

    was she a victim of child abuse?
    her mother already had 3 sons …y more?

    i dont know what really to write….
    its depressing !!Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/AreebahShahid Areebah Shahid

    thank you for writing this piece! we as a society have issues talking about sexuality with children because we do not want their childhood to be ‘corrupted’ not realizing how vulnerable we are making them to traumatic experiences that will have a life long impact on their lives!Recommend

  • Bilal Khan

    Assertions that US has more sex predators is absurd. Its only that they go after and prosecute more sex predators and statistics are freely available, as opposed to Pakistan where no one goes after them and the matter is kept quite.

    Same type of abuse occurs unhindered across the country, especially in interior areas where the landowners consider all those that work under them as their own sexual slaves. The media should talk to the flood survivors who have horrible tales in which fathers have to stand by quietly while the vaderas and choudhrys rape their wives and daughters night after night. Recommend

  • nadiya

    abhorring!!!
    mentally sick people.. we all are responsible for this. I dare not say i had nothing to do with this, because i do. I am a citizen of this country and i choose to ignore so much.Recommend

  • Ali Qureshi

    its not the first one, nor it ll be the last one..Recommend

  • Ahmed T

    @parvez:
    & most of them do it in the garb of religion, in the protected environ of seminaries!Recommend

  • Maheen Rahman

    @Amna:
    There are two types! HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-2 which causes genital herpes is only transmitted through sexual contact.
    For the child’s sake, I really do wish this wasn’t true. It’s heartbreaking.Recommend

  • Zaib

    people who do these kind of acts actually has forgot that there is Allah … and who is watching all this … and indeed we all have to go back to him one day … Recommend

  • http://habibimuslimah.blogspot.com thanaya

    im shuddering in horror! this is so sad! im a mother of little chldren too and all my time is spent in teachng the children how bad this world is! i might be too pessimistic but ive already taught my 6year old son not to trust our very loyal servants and to watch his lil 3 year old sister all the time! i feel like crying and reaching out to these children who have been subjected to such torture! ya Allah! im sure it must be tough for u! may Allah swt give hidaya to these cruel people and protect all the children whethr or not they belong to the ummah! Ameen!Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    @Thannaya I have a 7 year old nephew and 3 year old niece, since he was 3, I’ve always told my nephew, hold my hand on the street else weird people will kidnap you and hurt you. And similarly with the niece, no matter how much she protests that I’m squeezing her, I keep a firm grip on her hand at all times. We shouldn’t have to do this! Just holding their hand should be enough, we should have the freedom to be able to go out and know our children are safe!

    @the writer this was short and precise, and so very heartbreaking. I’m always in awe of doctors because its not glamourous like Meredith and Derek and JD would you have you believe, its horrible and emotionally wracking. I don’t know how you guys can do it and then to relive it as you write about it, you have my utmost respect. That poor little girl.Recommend

  • Amyn

    Ob/Gyn is a very taxing rotation indeed! And when such cases come along, its horrifying!

    And yes the suggestion that US has more sex predators is totally absurd. They are caught and brought to justice more but Pakistan, and anyother country for that matter, has equally the same number!Recommend

  • Amyn

    Just a thought. It is possible that the mother has HSV (was never checked as far as we know) and the child might have gotten it while passing through the birth canal, 6 years ago. It is just manifesting/presenting now or may have maifested for sometime but because of neglect was never brought to attention.Recommend

  • Amer

    It’s a very very sad thing that’s happened to this little girl. I am sure there are thousands of countless other children out there that face the same kind of issues everyday. I see the street children washing cars, selling flowers, selling newspapers, begging and fighting to keep alive, one can only imagine the kind of horrors these children go thru. I put most of the blame on the parents and the society shares this blame with them. The mother of the little girl is an animal who knows nothing better then to produce children like a cow. What does she think her sons will give her? I am sure her husband is a coward, uneducated rat himself but the women of this society should become more aware, more empowered. This little girls parents have sowed seeds of fire for the hereafter by neglecting their children. Sometimes I don’t understand when people start blaming everything on religion. Why don’t we research our own religion ourselves and stop blaming everything on the mullahs? Are the mullahs responsible for our own actions? Islam does not allow us to treat our girls this way. On the contrary, Islam has given women a high place in society, before Islam the Arabs used to bury their new born daughters alive, remmember that?
    It really drives me crazy, when I read people saying that “in fact there are more sexual predators in USA than anywhere else”. I have lived/studied/worked in the US for a long time. It’s not that there are more sexual predators, it’s that the society cares about protecting their vulnerable from these predators and that’s the reason we see more local news of these kind of artocities and when you see/read things on the news more, you tend to think that these things are happening on a frequent bases in the US. The US has some of the most advanced systems in the world for black listing sexual predators etc, there are many that I have seen but that’s the the point here. Believe me there is abuse in every single society of the world, we have to look inwards more then outwards and focus on correcting the illness within.
    Maheen Rahman: I salute you and in a way envy you that you have one of the best chances to serve humanity. In your own way you are trying to reduce the sufferings of this decaying nation. I hope the working conditions for doctors in this country improve, and the exodus of doctors & other educated individuals of this country slows down, otherwise we would be left for the history books. Recommend

  • EJ

    “I also know that, as a doctor, I have to get ‘used to’ all sorts of unimaginable things.”

    Please dont ever get used to this, once we get used to things, we stop treating them the way we should, once you are used to it, you will not be writing about it, making people aware.

    Unfortunately we have so well immunised ourselves against the wrong, that it no longer effects the way it should!Recommend

  • Hamood

    To all those who are disputing my claim that US has more sexual predators than anywhere else in the world, the proof is in the statistics. Just look it up. Unless you prove me otherwise with Statistics, I would say its just hearsay. Not only that, US is also the country which is in the top tier of countries with violent crime. More people were murdered in US last year than those killed by terrorists and army operations in Pakistan last year. And that year was unusual for a country like Pakistan. So even though there is no war-like situation in the US the stats are still grim.Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    Yeah, and US is also the country that has teamed up with RAW, MOSSAD, the Illuminati, Sauron, Apocalypse, Sinister, Juggernaut, Voldemort, Dr. Doom, and the aunt that insists on kissing you and scratching her beard on your cheek in the process to destroy Pakistan as we know it. Recommend

  • parvez

    All these days I was waiting for Ghausia to blow a fuse. Very well said, I love the aunt.Recommend

  • R. Querieshi

    I hope Higher Courts take action on this news.Recommend

  • http://Faisalabad Mubarik

    “I hope Higher Courts take action on this news.” Higher courts are busy fighting for their own share of the national cake, they have no time for poor.
    .Recommend

  • http://bakedsunshine.wordpress.com/ Shumaila

    This is indeed a saddening post. But what can one do? We need much more stricter laws and a hell of a lot of increased awareness to be able to prevent cases like this. Poor child. My heart goes out to her.

    Bushra, you’re going to have to strengthen yourself. This is not the last of the cases you’ll have to see, and while retaining emotions is essential to remaining human, for your own sanity you’ll have to attain some level of detachment too. But I guess you know that.Recommend

  • shy

    very sad but,where is mullah n their role ?Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    This one is for the op-ed. I wish there was social security. The child deserve better parenting than neglect by her parents (both father who can’t seem to have a break and mother who can’t seem to close her legs and open her heart).

    I wish I could adopt.Recommend

  • Muhammad Zeeshan

    Welcome to Islamic Republic Of Pakistan

    we rape our youth, we molest young boys, incest is extremely common in rural areas, corruption is everywhere, we kill on the name of religion…

    welcome :)Recommend

  • TL

    its a chain reaction..what do you expect to happen in a nation whose leader is a criminal?Recommend

  • Faiza

    @parvez I’ll take that as a compliment, whether it was meant to be or not. :P Look, I’m very well-behaved most of the times, it takes a purely idiotic statement/blog to unleash my nasty ranting side lol. And oh God that aunt turned out to be the granny of a relative, I held my hand out to shake it and I swear to God the woman honest to God yanked me into what can only be described as a molestive embrace, scratching her chin hair on my cheek.

    I barfed.Recommend

  • Ghausia

    Erm, that last comment was me. Serves me right for using someone else’s laptop. :PRecommend

  • Tehreem Iftikhar

    Depressing very depressing …the curse of child abuse is now very common in our country and it won’t be stop until the light of education lit up their illiterate minds. Recommend

  • Tehreem Iftikhar

    @TL:
    Right absolutely right..we’ ve to stop expecting of good from our LEADER.Recommend

  • Sania

    @ Ghausia: Victimizing the poor little girl with the pain she’ll live with for the rest of her life has nothing to do with RAW MOSSAD or whoever you are blaming. The problem is within our very ISLAMIC Republic of Pakistan. It is the lack of proper infrastructure to bring such offenders/predators to justice! For some reason all ministers/vaderas/govt officials or any tom dick and harry with tonnes of money is above the law.

    Secondely, it is the lack of health/sexual awareness/education provided to teens and pre teens at the right time making them even more susceptible to such vile souls of the society.Recommend

  • parvez

    @Ghausia: Was a compliment. How can you take it any other way.Recommend

  • foxAwan

    @Hamood:
    Your assertions of comparing states with us is as absurd as anything i’ve read in my lifetime. Killers are caught, some are not caught. Plain and simple yet in our land of free, where only one serial killer ever came to limelight, had killed more then 400 children. 400! CAN YOU IMAGINE FOUR HUNDRED CHILDREN?
    I have a son and everytime he simply cries my heart stops to beat! At least in developed countries i can seek justice as there are checks and balances in place. Here, can you do the same? Are you saying this article is unwarrented because she could not bring to you the statistics which your egotastic can handle?
    I spit on people who bring to the front that is happening in america as well. Look at you and us are we anywhere near a law abiding country?
    America vs pakistan, you got to be kidding me. I am fuming and I should not be but your heresay stuff is freakingly childish. Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    @Sania dude, this much inability to detect/understand sarcasm is vastly unattractive.

    @parvez oh dude you never know, there are so many people that hate me here lol. I am much flattered, more so because I figured the RAW/Mossad/Voldemort analogy was getting old. :PRecommend

  • Sania

    @Ghausia my apologies. I didnt read the comment above yours to which you were responding. Nonetheless, most of us have clouded our minds into believing that external forces are responsible for anything and everything that is going on in pakistan without for a second stepping back and evaluating our own characters. Recommend

  • Bilawal

    @Hamood:
    Is mie bhi amreeca ki galti hai lolRecommend