Parents need to continuously question their decisions
On Thursday, 19th January 2012, your newspaper carried a news article which related the allegations of four boys who claimed they were being sexually abused by an Imam of their masjid.
The article contains several important lessons for parents and reveals certain facets of information that make the reader question the fabric of contemporary Guyanese society and its attitude toward child abuse.
The purpose of this letter is not to confront or attack anyone, but rather to impart a learning experience, for all, from the mistakes that have been made.
Firstly, the mother of one of the abused boys recalled a time when her son returned home from masjid looking as though he had been crying.
Upon being questioned the boy told her that he was beaten by the Imam “to stay back and watch game on the computer…” The mother said that her son then went “straight in he bed.”
Immediately one notices the cadences of the sentence and wonders if such a nonchalant attitude is given in all cases where children are beaten by religious leaders.
The reader is also forced to ask him/herself whether the beating of children by religious leaders is an accepted norm in certain aspects of society.
Another thing that stands out is the fact that the parents seemed to have allowed their children to visit the home of the Imam for religious or recreational purposes. I cannot understand why a parent would allow this to happen. Going to the home of the Imam is not the same as going to masjid and greater care should have been taken by the parents when allowing their children, aged 4-10, to go to someone whom they obviously do not know well enough, a stranger, until 8 in the night.
Parents need to be more sceptical of everything; this is their duty as parents, to ensure that every decision they make is foolproof and will not bring harm to their children.
It is a well known fact that child molesters use toys, and other items, as a mean of luring children to them. We were, as children, constantly told not to take candy from strangers.
It seems as though with the technological development of the world even child molesters have evolved as well. I hope parents out there take note of this and are more wary when invitations of any kind are offered to their children regardless of the individual’s influence and role in society
This alleged episode could have been prevented or avoided if people paid attention to the many rumours circulating in the community about the Imam, but they were overlooked probably because of his high position.
There is a valuable lesson here about religion and faith, and how people can be manipulated by them. It is always wise to ask questions and to never enter into any agreement blindly even if it offends the “higher ups”. Nothing can be more important than the welfare of children.
It is my wish that the guns of this Imam be located and checked to see if they are licensed and an investigation launched into the purpose of the weapons.
I have asked myself why an Imam has two guns and I can come up with no reasonable answer. If the authorities do find the guns in the room where the boys were reportedly taken would this not corroborate the children’s story? Clearly, the guns are important.
The fact that the Child Protection Agency received an anonymous tip on the suggested activities of the Imam, the rumours that were circulating in the community, and the coming forward of other children besides the four boys who have admitted to being abused are all evidence that quite a lot of people knew what was allegedly going on in Turkeyen.
We need to know why any abuse was not reported immediately. Perhaps educating residents on child abuse is necessary.
Lastly, I hope students of the Imam (from the school where he teaches) will be questioned so we can ensure that the alleged actions of the Imam did not spread beyond the masjid.
In closing I wish to appeal to parents to ask themselves simple questions when dealing with the roles of strangers in their children’s lives. Ask yourself, is this person safe? How do I know so? Why should my child meet him at night and not during the day? Why at his house and not somewhere public? Why did my child cry after returning? Why has my child’s persona changed after being with this person?
In such a case talking to yourself would never be a sign of madness, but rather one of supreme wisdom.