My niece is the apple of my eye, but I fear for her

Published: August 8, 2016
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My niece, the apple of my eye, started to crawl yesterday. She is an exquisite child with a sharp mind that is capable of understanding what happens around her. PHOTO: PINTEREST

I was reading the paper while having toasted bread with a cup of coffee, and my eyes fell upon a story that sent shivers down my spine – two brothers had raped a 14-year-old girl. I placed the cup back on the table since my hands were trembling and all of a sudden, I was a broken little girl again.

I was transported back into the past, the same past that had affected not only my childhood, but my soul – a past where I was loved and was the apple of someone’s eye. But sometimes, love isn’t enough because I still remember. I remember that day clearly; I was wearing my favourite sweet pink dress with tiny white flowers on it. Mommy had made two pony tails. I was laughing, playing and running across the hall, I went out on the street and my uncle (that brutal beast across the street), opened up his arms, calling me to play peek-a-boo.

We didn’t play peek-a-boo that day. Instead he made me sit on his lap. I knew it was wrong, but I was afraid, shy and way too young to speak up about it at that particular moment. Bottom line: those mere five minutes shushed me for life. It went on till I was 13, when we miraculously moved somewhere else. But it left an everlasting impact on my soul. The depression and the adverse psychological conditions didn’t go away in a day.

I would not realise the tears rolling down my cheeks, or when my coffee grew cold, I didn’t realise how long I had been holding the tears in. Now that I’ve crossed my teens, I’ve found myself capable of handling any situation. For a while, I used to think I was alone in my suffering, but I come across an increased number of rape cases around the world from time to time. The current increase in a wave of sexual harassment, not only amongst the younger generation, but our senior citizens as well, gave me courage to stand on my own and give weightage to myself. This emotional trauma can be overcome by having a shoulder to rely on, which will eventually push you back into life again – that in any case is remarkably difficult.

My niece, the apple of my eye, started to crawl yesterday. She is an exquisite child with a sharp mind that is capable of understanding what happens around her. I was tending to her the other day as she played with her toys when I decided that she, and the other children in our vicinity, do not only need love, but more so, they need protection. Not only physical protection, but mental protection as well. I will not let my niece’s childhood crumble – I will be her protector.

I have to build a relationship with my niece in order to introduce a level of comfort so she doesn’t hesitate before talking to me; a level of comfort that I never had with anyone. We need to discuss the little things in a way that make our children feel safe. The media, along with the silly Bollywood masala, tends to demolish my niece’s character and I’ve realised that we are the ones who can help our girls – no one else can. We need to keep our eyes open for them today and every day that follows. We need to wake up so that our children do not become victims of molestation or abduction.

Q H

Q H

The author is currently pursuing her doctoral research in genomics and an active member of various societies. She loves to talk about different subjects but in a constructive manner. Her ambition is to teach and make her parents proud.

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

  • Sadia

    This is a great initiative, lets be the shield dor our children, not only girls but also young boys. Thanks to the author who came forward to talk about such issues. Recommend

  • Anonymous Name

    Child molestation is a huge problem in all parts of the world. It has only now started getting media attention in Pakistan in the last 2 to 3 years.Recommend

  • Parvez

    A subject that needs to be written about and awareness created…..well done.
    I know that there are laws on the books for sex offenders ….. but are there specific laws against pedophiles ? and if not, there should be…… very strict ones.Recommend

  • Ravian

    Q H, you are a brave girl to have withstood such a trauma. The parties to blame are the “beast” and your parents who could not notice your depression. In our society, child abuse is not uncommon and in many cases, children are shushed into silence to protect the “family honour”. This is so unfortunate. And indeed, our society is drifting with the tide. young generation is learning all the wrong things from “bollywood masala” and I fear that soon the same might happen to Pakistan what is happening to India, people carrying out rapes, filming them and selling them in the market.Recommend

  • QH

    To my little knowledge, there exist such laws, but my question is, that a society we live in, even if some one dares to speak up for his/her rite in such offense, do they get “respect” in response or have to loose, what they already had once??Recommend

  • QH

    My point was just plain awareness! The current Lahore incidence made me put this on paper.Recommend

  • QH

    Well I hope we never see that time ever, InshaAllah.
    This is a story of one of my closest mate, and she did get close to death. Its been more than 12 years now, but the fear still persists i her eyes! Dont let that happen again in your surroundings!!!Recommend

  • Parvez

    You make a good point….but laws and more importantly their enforcement is one method devised by civilized societies to try keep society civilized. Its an uphill task.Recommend

  • Shaista Javaid

    Unfortunately, every third girl faces this in our societyRecommend

  • QH

    One thing i probably clear at this point that WE aren’t currently behaving as a civilized society, neither our government is. Laws are not going to be enforced, not in near future. I don’t feel my govt. changing even a bit, not before WE change ourselves. WE have to clear in our minds and thoughts that this is the cutoff point, and we cannot let anyone cross that line!!Recommend