Hundreds of thousands of children are victims of physical and mental torture in schools, religious seminaries and homes: SPARC.-AFP photo

QUETTA: Organised criminal gangs are using thousands of children as sex workers across the country, a workshop on children’s rights organised by the Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) was informed on Friday.

Muhammad Hanif Panezai, the chief of SPARC’s Balochistan chapter, said a survey had revealed that thousands of children were being used as sex workers at bus and truck stands and railway stations.

“Internet cafes and videogames’ shops are also being used for the purpose,” he said, adding that men belonging to several criminal networks remain present at these places to trap children and later use them as sex workers,” Mr Panezai said.

The Programme Manager of SPARC’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter, Mr Imran Khan Takkar, said a survey had revealed that 80 per cent of 1.5 million street children in Pakistan were victims of sexual abuse.

He said that organised criminal networks were using children to make pornographic material and later blackmailing them to commit heinous crimes, including suicide bombings.

He said that hundreds of thousands of children were victims of physical and mental torture in schools, religious seminaries and homes, adding that a major cause of school dropouts was violence against children.

He said that teachers of government and private schools and seminaries should avoid punishing students and should teach students how to protect themselves from the menace of sexual abuse.

Mr Takkar said the survey also pointed out that some criminal elements married minor girls of poor families and later shifted them to other cities to use them either in child labour or prostitution.