Spiritual leader and humanitarian Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) participated in the Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities’ first forum, ‘Child Dignity in the Digital World’. The forum took place in Abu Dhabi on November 20 under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and other dignitaries.
Amma delivered the Opening Address as part of a Call to Action by Faith Leaders, and participated in the Faith Leaders Summit. Her speech was based on her personal experience of having spoken directly with tens of thousands of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse all over the world during the past 30 years.
“One of the most deplorable, repulsive and dangerous afflictions in the human mind is the drive to sexually abuse and exploit another human being,” she said.
Amma focused on the need for parents to be both vigilant about their children’s online and offline lives and to foster loving relationships with their children. She also stressed the importance of parents inculcating spiritual values in their children which will inculcate self-control and compassion to others..
“If our laws and their enforcement were effective, then why is sexual exploitation continuing to increase at an alarming rate? Even though the United Nations, governments and social-welfare organisations are all working against this, why don’t we see an improvement? Knowingly or unknowingly, a key factor is being overlooked—spiritual values.”
Amma also spoke about the pros and cons of the Internet, social media and smartphones, explaining that, as with any new technology, tremendous care must taken with their use. “In the past, people feared ghosts and evil spirits. Today, a much bigger problem has taken its place. People fear those living under the same roof—their spouse, siblings, family and friends.
They wonder, ‘Are there hidden cameras in my house, or even in my bathroom?’ Now, even our own family members may not hesitate to sell our naked images online, making us victims of pornography.” The Forum is envisaged to encourage a faith-based dialogue regarding challenges to the safety and security of the world’s communities.