Saudi Arabia facing high child sex abuse: Studies

Riyadh, Oct 31 (IANS) Some studies in Saudi Arabia have revealed that the rate of children’s sexual abuse in the Kingdom is alarmingly high with every fourth child having been exposed to sexual harassment at some point of early life.

The Orphan Care Department in the Eastern Province organised recently a lecture for foster families entitled “Sexual Harassment and Adolescence” to inform parents about the importance of protecting children from sexual harassment.
The event took place on the premises of the Directorate General for Social Affairs in Dammam in the presence of 75 foster families, Arab News reported Friday.
Many papers were presented on the issue including a study conducted by Wafa Mahmoud, assistant professor at King Saud University, revealing a high percentage of cases involving children being sexually abused.
She said one of every four children experienced sexual harassment.
Another study by Munera Abdulrahman showed that 49.23 percent of sexually abused children were aged up to 14.
Sheikha bint Ouda Al-Ouda, a social and educational counsellor, said there were no accurate figures on the extent of child sexual abuse in the Kingdom as the topic is considered taboo. The families fear scandal or even being ostracised by other family members on revealing such incidents.
The main reason for child sexual abuse’s occurrence was the silence and the complacency of the family, particularly the mother, Al-Ouda said. “Some mothers don’t mind sending children to corner stores, or with a relative, or letting them sleep with male members of the family, including the father.”