LAHORE: From January to June in the current year, 1,304 cases of sexual abuse of children have been reported by the media in the country, which means that at least seven children are abused daily, reveals in a report released by a child rights organisation, Sahil.
According to the report released at the Lahore Press Club on Thursday, the data from January to June in 2019 reveals that 729 girls and 575 boys became victims of sexual exploitation. The cases under major categories included 378 of abduction, 139 of rape, 153 of sodomy, 46 of gang rape, 88 of gang sodomy whereas 12 boys and four girls have been murdered after sexual abuse.
In 2018, there were 3,307 such incidents reported to police, 39 cases were not reported and 56 cases were not registered. Around 430 cases were reported by newspapers with incomplete information.
In Lahore only, there were 50 incidents reported last year while nine children had been abducted and 12 reported missing from January to June 2019. January to June data gave grim numbers as it included five incidents of rape, seven of sodomy, three of gang rape and five of gang sodomy.
Ansar Sajjad Bhatti, the senior regional coordinator of Sahil, said there were other incidents in which three boys and as many girls were murdered after gang rape, sodomy and rape, 186 children were found missing from their homes while there were 40 cases of early child marriage and one case of Vani.
The most common perpetrator of the child sex abuse was an acquaintance with the victim and the victim’s family. Out of a total of 1,304 cases, 614 cases were such where the abusers had acquaintance with victims or victim’s family. In all, 142 cases were reported in which strangers were involved in abusing children.
Most victims (414) were between 11 and 15 years old, followed by 5 to 10 years old (171 cases), and 16 to 18 years old (117 cases). The youngest age group one to five years old had the least number of cases (75). In 401 cases, the age of victims was not mentioned in newspapers.
In total, 203 children have been abused in their own places, 300 at an acquaintance’s place, four in a haveli, 12 in a madrassa, three at their workplace and 162 in open places, including fields, streets and forests. Punjab had the most cases of sexual abuse (652), followed by Sindh (458), Federal (90), KP (51), Balochistan (32), AJK (18) and GB (3).
Mr Bhatti said Sahil’s recommendations included an awareness campaign for protection of children from child abuse, introduction of a new legislation and a guarantee of implementation of enforced enactments, as well as a comprehensive rehabilitation/support system for the victims. He said messages of self-protection should be included in the school curriculum while a provincial plan of action against child sexual abuse and exploitation must be drafted by the government.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2019