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ISLAMABAD: A report released by the NGO Sahil has revealed that cases of child abuse increased by 32pc in the first six months of 2018 compared to the first half of 2017.

The report found that a total of 2,322 child abuse cases were reported by newspapers in all four provinces, as well as Islamabad, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. In comparison, 1,764 such incidents were reported from January to June 2017.

More than 12 children were abused every day during the January to June period of this year, the data shows. In addition, 1,725 cases were reported from rural areas and 597 from urban areas.

Take a look: Tackling child sexual abuse: awareness, identification and prevention

Cases of sexual abuse of boys increased by 47pc, the report said, while cases of sexual abuse of girls increased by 22pc compared to last year.

Children between the ages of six and 15 are the most vulnerable to abuse, the report said.

However, it also found an alarming increase in cases of children up to the age of five. In the first six months of 2017, a total of 79 such cases were reported, but 321 rape cases of children up to the age of five were recorded for the first half of this year.

The report said that in 48pc of cases the abuse was committed by acquaintances, in 14pc it was committed by acquaintances with strangers, in 11pc it was committed by strangers and in 12pc of cases the identity of the abuser was not mentioned.

A total of 24pc of cases occurred at the acquaintance’s place, 15pc at the victim’s place and 10pc in the field – these findings were similar to last year’s.

Out of the total cases of child abuse that the report noted, 89pc were registered with the police. The police refused to register 32 cases, and 17 were not registered for various reasons.

Compared to last year, the number of registered cases has increased by 59pc while police refusals to register cases have decreased by 32pc.

According to the provincial breakdown, 65pc of cases were reported from Punjab and 26pc from Sindh.

A total of 69 cases were reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 68 from the capital, 55 from Balochistan, 21 from AJK and two from GB.

One of the authors of the report, Mamtaz Gohar told Dawn that although child abuse cases were expected to fall in the wake of the Zainab case, they had unfortunately increased.

“However, another view is that the Zainab murder case gave victims’ families courage to speak out rather than hide incidents of sexual abuse. The good thing is that, soon after that case, a drastic change has been noticed in the attitude and behaviour of families towards such cases,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2018