Sodomy and Pedophilia in Kashmir: Murder and Rape of Innocence

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SRINAGAR: An Imam of a Mosque in Pulwama has been arrested by the police for forcing himself upon a young boy aged 8. The boy had gone to the Mosque to learn reading and reciting the Quran. The sodomized boy had the courage to narrate the incident to his family who reported the Imam to the police. 

As reported in some sections of the media, this ghastly and deplorable incident is not merely a case of sodomy. Sodomy – or unnatural sex- does not capture the gravity and enormity of the crime. The case in contention is a case of pedophilia. Pedophilia is defined as a psychiatric disorder where an adult is sexually drawn to young children; sexual abuse of young children defines pedophilia.  There is no known cure for pedophilia except perhaps deterring it through rigorous and strict punishment. Pedophilia besides being an evil and bad act by itself causes incalculable and lifelong psychological harm to the victim.

These general observations about pedophilia, however, are not enough. While the case in contention –the sexual assault on the 8 year old boy by an Imam of the Mosque- has come to public notice and attention, there could be innumerable cases of this nature in Kashmir. These either go unnoticed for obvious reasons: the inability of the child victim to articulate the nature of the assault, the urge to suppress the incident by families of victims for fear of shame or psychological or other forms of coercion by the perpetrator of the crime on the victim. Given the enormity of the crime and its implications-social, economic and individual- society should and must take serious notice of this.

Pedophilia is usually carried out by people who are known to the victim and a relationship of trust exists between the child and the perpetrator. The case of the Imam and the eight year old victim in Pulwama is a case in point. An Imam of a Mosque is held in high, great esteem and even awe by society; that an Imam could indulge in activities that make a normal individual retch and that people find disgusting is unbelievable for most of us. But alas, as the Pulwama case demonstrates this can and has happened. How can these crimes which scar individual victims for life and which reflect ungainly psychiatrist disorders among people be prevented?

The sad answer is that total prevention is well nigh impossible but the incidence of these ghastly crimes can be reduced. The question is how?

The answer is multipronged.

First, society must admit that there are perverts and psychopaths out there who can adopt respectable avatars and under the guise of this commit atrocious crimes like pedophilia. This collective admission needs to be followed by measures that can limit the crimes. One obvious step or measure here would be to make young children aware of the potential of abuse; they need to be educated about perverts and perversion and how to protect themselves. Third, is the issue of Imams. While not all Imams should be tarred with the same brush, but prudence suggests vigorous screening tests and methods be employed that allows to identify people with bad behavioral traits and even criminal records. It may be stated here that perverts and people with psychopathological traits are, sometimes, intelligent people who can obscure and hide their disorders quite well. But, in the least, a screening mechanism can help weed out these people to a large extent. This screening becomes all the more important given that we have now even started importing Imams. This practice, ideally, should stop, but in instances where there is no choice, imported imams should be subjected to even more stringent screening mechanisms.

Last, stringent punishment should be devised by the state and then implemented with vigor or even zeal to deal with Pedophilia crimes and criminals. This could be followed by total ostracism and exclusion by society if the perpetrator is at all released at some point in time. The pedophilic criminal must find no place to hide under the sun, so to speak. Both the state and the society have to be on the same page regarding this. Another key and important facet of the this crime is that victims of pedophilia need counseling, , familial and societal care and assistance. They should be made to feel normal and helped to live their lives normally.

It is unfortunate that a wider section of the media here is more or less preoccupied only with the politics but is not as involved with social, moral and ethical issues. In terms of pedophilia and its occurrence and incidence in our society, the media downplays it especially when supposedly holy men are involved. Given the reach of the media, alerting and educating people about pedophilia and other related crimes and pathologies, the media’s role becomes critical.

Pedophilia is a serious crime and it should be treated as such. It is not well recognized in our society. But, it is about high time that we understand the import and gravity of the crime , deal with it in a way that minimizes if not eliminates its incidence and help victims deal with it. We owe this to us, society and our children.

 

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