I attended the official launch of the “Protection of children with disabilities from abuse” programme at the Be Free Centre yesterday . The launch was under the patronage of HH Shaika Hessa bint Khalifa Al-Thani, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Disability.
In case you don’t know who they are, Be Free is the organisation that virtually single-handedly pioneered anti-child molestation and abuse awareness in Bahrain. The are an amazing group of women who have overcome many, many obstacles to further their cause.
They are now taking their noble cause even further by spreading awareness about protecting children with disabilities from abuse. They have conducted several workshops over the last few years, as part of a pilot study, educating disabled children and their parents about abuse. The official launch of the programme was this Tuesday the 23rd. In fact, while we were there we had the opportunity to see a class in progress. There was a lady talking to a group of about 6 or 7 blind children. Her enthusiasm and dedication was just awe-inspiring.
Amazingly, the event started on time! It was scheduled to start at 10:00 am. The VIP guest, Shaika Hessa Al-Thani arrived about two minutes before 10:00. It took everyone a few seconds to absorb the fact that such an important guest actually arrived on time. She was so down to earth and approachable. A lovely lady. She gave a brief speech and you could see her enthusiasm and passion about the subject come through.
Later, the Director of the Be Free Centre, Dr. Soroor Qarooni shared some frightening statistics about the abuse that some disabled children suffer from. Here are some interesting points she mentioned:
* 20% of the poorest people in the world have disabilities.
* 98% of children with disabilities in developed countries do not go to school.
* 30% of street children in the world have disabilities.
* A child with disabilities is five times more likely to be abused than a “normal” child.
* 90% of disabled children have suffered some form of abuse or sexual molestation by the age of 18!
* In a US study 5% of disabled children have been sexually molested by the school bus driver!
* A study in Norway revealed that 80% of deaf children have been sexually molested at one stage in their life!
Dr. Soroor also showed two brain scan pictures of 3 year old children. It showed that the brain of the neglected child was much smaller and less developed than the normal child!
You can download her slides here (Sorry, they are only available in Arabic)
Scary stuff, right? It makes me sick when I think that someone would sexually abuse a disabled child. People like that deserve their own type of hell – here on earth and in the afterlife!
If you have a child/children with disabilities, and would like to learn more, then I urge you to contact Be Free. Further, if protecting children from abuse is a topic that interests you, I urge you to contact the Be Free people and ask them how you can help. They can always use more volunteers, and they can do with more financial support as well.
You can also listen to an audio interview I did about the techniques child molesters use to trap children. This audio is absolutely free, just visit ZendoForKids.com. The website also has an anti-bullying video and various other videos as well, all free.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and talk to you soon.