January 29, 2002
Send us your questions
* More cautious approach
The heroic letter of that victim ["I
am very afraid"] and your courageous, all-answers-in-one-quick-email
response to her made me imagine the worst case scenario, one of those "What
if .." type of dark thoughts that usually won't happen but my mind
entertains it anyway.
If this woman happens to be a very young, passive girl from a deeply
Muslim family with low levels of education and quick and unforgiving tempers
which could and would flare up if anything related to sex and their immediate
family members surface, then your advice could turn out to be too costly,
especially could cost her life. This, as I mentioned, is the worst case
scenario and won't happen very often but happens frequent enough to warrant
a more cautious approach on the part of the advice giver.
It's admirable to voice out the truth and advocate it with all your
might; which you did in your response to her. But, your position comes
with a sense of responsibility that requires you to sniff like a detective
canine in critical and sensitive situations like sexual abuse. Ask more
questions, inquire about the details, weight the factors such as culture,
family, political situations and then, and only if you feel comfortable,
It's as heroic and courageous, if not more, to say nothing when your
gut feelings tell you that you are not qualified to advise in certain situations.
God forbids, if one of these cases turns out to become disastrous,
your conscience will cost you a life of grief.
Keep up your good work and thanks for hearing me out
Abjee Fotti and Abjee Pari write:
Thank you for your letter and the valid points you brought up.
We understand that advice in these types of situations varies greatly
according to the location of the person. We have not received information
from this particular reader as to where she is writing from.
However, we did mention in our letter that our advice in this case is
valid if she lives in North America. We added that if she lived somewhere
else, she should write to us again and we will try to advise her accordingly.
As for us not being qualified to advise, we have never claimed to be
professional therapists or "know-it-alls". If you read our introduction
to the column, we have stated that we are just 2 regular abjeez living in
California whose only expertise comes from daily life experiences and we
would like to share our point of view IF someone seeks it out.
But any life decisions remains ultimately in the hands of the readers
of our column. We simply provide options for those who are looking and
may not necessarily grasp them.
Abjee Pari and Abjee Fotti