PESHAWAR: Despite increased legislation and awareness, the incidence of child sexual assault and abuse in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has witnessed an upward trend during the last three years with Peshawar alone reporting 120 cases, the provincial assembly was told on Tuesday.

The documents submitted by the home and tribal affairs department to the assembly’s secretariat show that the provincial capital had recorded 44 cases of child assault and sexual abuse between 2019 and 2021.

The issue came under discussion during question hour with Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan in the chair.

Dera Ismail Khan district left Peshawar behind with 127 child abuse cases.

Home dept says 120 Peshawar children assaulted in three years

The official documents show that 42 abuses cases have been recorded in 2019 and 34 cases in 2020, in Peshawar. In Nowshera, adjacent to Peshawar, a total of 84 cases have been recorded during the last three years (2019, 2020 and 2021).

A total of 68 cases were reported in Haripur, 62 in Abbottabad and 43 in Mansehra during the period.

The home department report also revealed the murder of 13 minors after sexual assault across the province.

MPA of the opposition Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal Inayatullah Khan, who moved the question, expressed concern about the surge in child abuse cases in the province and urged the government to ensure strict enforcement of the laws for child protection.

“Unfortunately, in our society, children are killed after rape,” he said, adding that the government and society should take steps for the protection of children.

Pakistan Peoples Party member Nighat Yasmin Orakzai said the Civic Education Bill drafted by her had been pending approval for the last two years.

She said children needed awareness and education to protect themselves from predators.

The government informed the assembly through a written reply that the child protection law was being implemented, while the government had set up child protection desks under the Child Protection Act along with gender violence desks in different districts.

It added that the child protection desks would be extended to other districts as well.

The government said pictures of child abusers had been displayed in the relevant police stations.

The opposition benches expressed dissatisfaction over the state of tourism in the province and stressed that tourists could not be attracted without peace in the province.

They said the prevailing security situation in Malakand had affected the tourism sector and that the government should build roads to promote tourism in the province.

Minority MPA Ranjit Singh, through a supplementary question, said the archeology department had been ignoring a 500-year-old temple in Gorkhatri area of Peshawar. He said the department should allow minorities to carry out essential renovation in the temple.

Labour minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai said the provincial government was in negotiation with the World Bank to secure funds for the construction of roads in the tourist attract areas.

He said over 200 kilometers of roads in these areas were under construction.

The minister said the tourism department had established 10 camping pods, and additional pods were being set up at new spots to facilitate tourists. He said jeepable tracks had been built in some areas.

The assembly also passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance (Amendment) Bill, 2022, to revise tobacco development rates on various categories of tobacco. The opposition members objected to it. An amendment proposed by PPP member Ahmad Kundi was put to vote but it was defeated.

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf tabled a resolution regarding the suspension and ban on transmission of ARY News television channel and journalists staged a token walkout from the press gallery.

Minister Yousafzai moved the resolution, which was passed with a majority vote. The opposition benches opposed the resolution.

The resolution said hundreds of journalists had lost jobs after suspension of the ARY New licence by the federal government, so the move should be withdrawn immediately.

It said the Pakistan Democratic Movement and the federal government could not tolerate a free and independent media, so the transmission of ARY News had been banned.

Concluding discussion on an adjournment motion, labour minister Shaukat Yousafzai said rains and the floods caused by them killed 117 people, injured 134 and damaged more than 4,000 houses in the province.

He said Rs361 million had been given away to different districts, while Rs370 million had been released to the district administrations to work on an emergency basis for the rehabilitation of the calamity victims.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2022

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