1,489 children sexually abused in six months: report

Published August 26, 2020
As many as 168 children went missing from homes while there were 51 cases of child marriage and four of vani. — Creative Commons/File
As many as 168 children went missing from homes while there were 51 cases of child marriage and four of vani. — Creative Commons/File

LAHORE: As many as 1,489 children, at least eight per day, were sexually abused in the first half of the year in the country. The victims included 785 girls and 704 boys. The abusers were acquaintances of the victims or victims’ family in 822 cases while strangers were involved in 135 reported cases.

These statistics were shared by Sahil, an organisation working for child protection, on the release of its report, Cruel Numbers, at the Lahore Press Club on Tuesday.

The major categories in the cases included abduction (331), rape (160), sodomy (233), gang rape (69) and gang sodomy (104). Thirteen boys and 12 girls were murdered after sexual abuse while four boys and one girl were murdered after gang rape.

As many as 168 children went missing from homes while there were 51 cases of child marriage and four of vani.

Abusers were acquaintances in 822 cases; victims were less than five years old in about 100 cases

The most shocking aspect of the cases was age of the victims as in 98 cases, the victims were between the age of one to five years, in 331 cases, they were between six and 10 years of age while the largest number of cases (490) happened with victims between 11 to 15 years of age.

There were 165 cases of the abuse wherein the victims were from the age of 16 to 18 years. In 405 cases, the age of the victim was not mentioned in newspapers.

While many children (around 160) were abused at their places/homes, most were taken to the acquaintances’ places (395) and abused there. Four children were also taken to the local haveli, 16 children were in madressa, 16 children were abused at workplaces and 193 in open places, including fields, streets and forests.

Punjab registered the largest number of cases (853), followed by Sindh (477), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (91), Islamabad (35), Balochistan (22), AJK (10) and GB (1).

From January to June, 1,340 incidents were reported to the police and seven cases were not reported. At the same time, seven incidents were not registered by the police whereas 135 cases were reported in newspapers with incomplete information.

In Lahore, 37 incidents were reported during the six months. Seven children were abducted, two were reported missing, seven were raped, seven sodomised and two gang-raped. One was murdered after rape while three were murdered after being sodomized.

During the launch of the report, Ansar Sajjad Bhatti, the provincial coordinator of Sahil, and Advocate Atif Khan gave some recommendations to monitor and counter child sex abuse.

They called for an effective awareness campaign by the government for protection of children from sexual abuse. New legislation must be introduced and implementation of enforced enactments must be ensured, they suggested and said that a comprehensive rehabilitation and support system for victims of abuse must also be formed while messages should be included in the school curriculum. They demanded a provincial plan of action against the sexual abuse and exploitation must also be formed immediate.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2020

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