A six year old with an STD

Published: October 21, 2010
Email

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.