Zulekha speaks about hidden sex abuse after 50 years

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LONDON: An Asian woman raped by a relative as a child has spoken out after 50 years to highlight the issue of hidden sex abuse. Zulekha Ahmed, from Rotherham, was five when she was repeatedly abused over a two-year period.

BBC has reported narration of 56-year-oldwoman who said her parents never talked about the abuse for fear of her bringing shame on the family. A spokeswoman for the Muslim Women’s Network said child sex abuse was “endemic in South Asian communities”.

Recalling the abuse at the hands of her mother’s cousin, who is now dead, Ms Ahmed said: “I didn’t know what was happening but I knew that, whatever was happening, that I’d been told I had to keep it a secret.

“The abuser had threatened me on many occasions. It was physical, like he’d smack me on the back and told me that if I told my parents they wouldn’t like me any more.”

Ms Ahmed said the abuse took place in a corner shop where the family lived and on one occasion her mother, who has since died, had walked in.”It was obvious to her what was going on. We as a family never talked about it. The only thing I remember Mum saying to me at that time… about how I’d been a naughty girl and that she would have to tell Dad about it. It’s brothers, it’s grandfathers”, she said.’

Ms Ahmed now runs Apna Haq, a charity that supports women and girls from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups in Rotherham who have experienced abuse or violence.

Through her work, she said she had spoken to hundreds of girls who had been sexually abused, many within the family, but felt unable to tell their parents or the police because they feared the reaction.