Most of us didn’t even realize when we were being sexually exploited as minors. Did you know if a person over the age of 18, tries to have a conversation with a minor (a child under the age of 16 for girls and 18 for boys) relating any sexual activity is committing a felony? The person is probably intending to sexually groom or exploit the child, in plans of having the child participate in sexual activity.
Defining online child sexual exploitation/grooming
Online Child sexual exploitation is a form of child abuse where the felon uses their power (physical, financial or most importantly emotional) over a child or a young figure, to emotionally or sexually abuse them. There are fair chances that the victim doesn’t even know that the other person tried to sexually exploit or groom them as they haven’t committed any sexual activity.
The offender mostly uses social media to trap their victims. Out of 10 almost 6 girls under the age of 16 have been (or have been tried) to be sexually or emotionally exploited by men over the age of 18 on social media, and they aren’t even aware.
Lack of awareness about sexual exploitation in Pakistan
In Pakistan there’s a huge lack of awareness about Sexual Exploitation, especially amongst the young women and teenagers. Talking about all this sensitive matter is considered to be a taboo among most of the population. There are thousands of girls who have been sexually exploited and they aren’t even aware of it. It is the responsibility of all of us who have been through this, to spread awareness about it so that no more young people suffer the agonizing and discomforting experience.
Grooming is when a person indulges in predatory conduct to prepare a child or a young person for sexual activity at a much later time.
Young people are often “groomed” before they are sexually abused. At first, they are tricked into thinking that they are safe and in a safe relationship and whatever is happening is completely ‘normal’
It is really hard to identify if someone is being groomed, until after they have been sexually abused because grooming behavior can sometimes look like ‘normal’ caring behavior, however, this is not always the case.
Examples of grooming behavior may include:
⦁ giving gifts or special attention to the young person or caretaker/parent, so that they feel special or indebted
⦁ trying to make or making close physical contact sexual, such as inappropriate tickling or wrestling/playful fighting (obviously not online).
⦁ exposing the younger person to unappropriated information, sexual activity, or nudity.
⦁ controlling the younger person through emotional engagement, threats, or force of authority making them fearful of reporting the unwanted behavior.
⦁ emotionally attaching the younger person to themselves and then taking advantage of that to Lauer, them into an undesirable activity.
Groomers may rely on mobile phones, social media, and the internet to interact with their prey and often ask them to keep their relationship private. The grooming process may continue for months before a physical meeting is arranged.
Grooming’ is a criminal offense. The offense targets predatory conduct undertaken by an adult to prepare a child, under the age of 16, to engage in sexual activity at a later time.
Preventive measures that can be taken:
There isn’t much that can be don’t to prevent this type of child sexual abuse, as the teenagers of this generation keep their saves very private from their parents. Although there are a few measures that can be made by every individual.
Keeping our minds open:
We as individuals can make sure that if we see anyone or are ourselves going through anything similar, we contact a trustworthy adult or a close friend. If we are unable to do so we should immediately try to break our contact with the abuser, no contact means no communication.
Take to children:
All the parents and teachers should make children around them aware that what is child sexual exploitation and grooming. Sexual exploitation can be difficult and uncomfortable to talk about with children. They may be reluctant to talk about and discuss close details about the abuse. When listening to children or a young person making a disclosure about potential abuse, including sexual exploitation, it is important to avoid asking leading or intrusive questions. Your role should be simply to receive the information in an unbiased way and liberate the child or young person ASAP, so that they no longer have to deal with the abuse.
Veresha Khan is Writer, Blogger and upcoming emergent talent in Social media