Child sexual abuse

Published May 15, 2022

IT is interesting that despite the strictures of society and political leaders on community evils, there is little attempt to look deeper into the issue of child sexual abuse in the country. It is a question worth exploring why, despite the existence of several laws made to protect children against abuse and newer initiatives such as the Zainab Alert app, this scourge is not only rampant but endemic in many parts of Pakistan. A list recently shared by Sahil, a leading NGO that focuses on child protection, names the 10 districts where this abhorrent practice is most common.

According to data shared by the organisation, the most number of cases continue to surface in Kasur district that reported 298 cases in 2021. Kasur, where a huge child pornography ring was exposed some years ago, was also the home of little Zainab, whose rape and murder, had led to violent protests. Kasur is followed by the capital twin districts of the country — Rawalpindi and Islamabad — with 292 and 247 cases respectively. The abnormal increase in cases from Rawalpindi and Islamabad indicate the possible presence of a trafficking ring. Other districts include Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Lahore, Okara, and Muzaffargarh in Punjab, and Khairpur in Sindh. According to the NGO, more than half the total number of reported cases (3,852) have emerged in these districts. Sahil officials say these figures have been gathered from a thorough analysis of news reports from 85 newspapers. The officials also revealed that sexual abuse of boys from six to 10 years was on the rise. These figures are probably just the tip of the iceberg. Abusers are often known to the victims, and in many cases the matter is never reported to the police for reasons of shame, ostracisation and fear of revenge. The absence of a sensitised police force has also prevented victims and their families from coming forward. No law is going to do much good until the authorities stop tiptoeing around the matter and abusers are tracked down and punished.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2022

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