Fearing for the Safety of My Nieces | About Islam
Home > Ask About Parenting > Young Hearts & Minds > Fearing for the Safety of My Nieces

Fearing for the Safety of My Nieces

Questioner

Mary

Reply Date

May 05, 2017

Question

I hope you can help me. My sister is a convert and has been married for over 30 years. We (my sister and I) have recently been told that her husband sexually abused a young girl over 20 years ago. I believe the person is telling the truth, she has no reason to lie. I am worried that my sister's two teenage daughters are at risk from their father. My sister is still living with this man, and going for marriage counseling hoping that he will admit his mistake and ask forgiveness. Should I report this to the social services. It would mean a lot of upset for her and her family especially in her line of work. She has been open about these accusations and told all her family about it. They do not believe it and her daughters say nothing bad has happened to them, I think they might be covering up for their father. I think she believes the accusations but has no proof. Should she continue to live with a man that she thinks might have done something so evil. They are a practicing Muslim family, and would appear to be honest about their faith (not hypocritical in any way). She has had a very difficult marriage, her husband is very controlling, but he is a good father and husband and until now I have not heard anything bad about him, except his controlling nature. She says her family is too dear to her to lose and she fears that all her children will stand by their father whatever he has done. Please advise us what to do, I am not a Muslim myself and find it hard to accept that she seems to be waiting for God to answer her prayers and settle this one way or the other.

Counselor

Answer


fearing

As-salamu `alaikum,

Thank you for writing us with your concerns for your sister and her family. Unfortunately, this is a difficult situation that requires much consideration.

I must ask, why did the individual involved only now reveal the event – 20 years after the fact? It is important to establish the reason for declaring the act of sexual abuse now. This could be quite informative as to what is really going on. I know often such cases are not disclosed many years after they occur, but 20 years seems like an exceptionally long time.

Dealing with a crime that someone may have committed over 20 years ago is not an easy thing to do. Since there is yet to be any proof of the man’s actions other than the one individual’s accusation. In terms of social services, one has to be quite clear as to involving them, because depending on the social worker and the support mechanisms at hand, a person can be wrongly accused and end up on record with both the social services and the police, without a burden of proof.

In the meantime, it sounds as if marital and family counseling is the way to go at the present time for the man and the family, for even if the individual did commit sexual abuse, what he needs – as well as the victim and the family – is healing through both therapy and sincere repentance. You’re talking about a marriage of 30 years and a family. Let’s give the avenue of therapy a chance before we start calling in social services.

Whether the man did sexually abuse his own children is a matter of speculation at this point. Since there is no proof of this, we cannot accuse him of such a thing and it sounds as if the children are determined to protect him regardless. You say the husband has, for all you know, been a good husband. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and give them the chance to work on their marriage and family life. I wouldn’t start a witch hunt, remember there is a family’s well-being at stake and it may be best just to deal with the matter in a therapeutic setting to focus on healing, full disclosure and moving on.

Based on the evidence there doesn’t seem to be enough proof to proceed with anything other than what’s already taking place. I personally would avoid the ‘lynch-mob’ mentality based on speculation. As in all offenses, there is a burden of proof that must be established and, as it sounds, there is no one else that is apparently willing to come forward and testify against the man.

Furthermore, as the speculated even took place 20 years ago, the individual accused of the crime may have undergone major changes since then, particularly if there is no additional evidence of anything else taking place since that time. From my limited perspective, I would suggest that if the individual and the family are having problems due to this or for any other reason, let them be dealt with in a therapeutic environment to start and until anything further and more concrete follows.

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 




About Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah

Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Science Study’s Community Education and Youth Studies Laboratory, Universiti Putra Malaysia. He received his B.A. from the University of Delaware (U.S.), his M.S. from Columbia University (U.S.) and his PhD from the Institute for Community & Peace Studies (PEKKA), Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2005 in the field of Youth Studies. Abd. Lateef is an American who has been living in Malaysia since 2001. He is married and has 2 children.

Add Comment


find out more!