By Farooq Ganderbali
About 10 young children are sexually abused every day in Pakistan, says a report recently published by an NGO, based in Pakistan, Sahil. The NGO based its findings on the articles published in 85 newspapers. The total number of children abused stood at 3832 in 2018. Of these, 55 per cent were girls and 45 boys. Dawn, in its editorial, called the numbers `horrifying`.
Child sexual abuse is an open secret in Pakistan. Rarely do victims tell their parents and even if they do, parents, worried about humiliation and harassment at the hands of law enforcement agencies, and community, prefer to remain silent. Most of them are poor and do not have any support or influence to bring the guilty to the book. Therefore the number of reported cases is far fewer.
Reacting to the report’s distressing findings, the English daily, The Nation, in its editorial said, “ the document tells us about a very alarming situation and hostile environment for children to grow up. What is the state doing about the pressing issue of child abuse ? How are we, as a community, dealing with the menace of child abuse ? The issue of child abuse is a serious one for it can inflict permanent damage on the psyche of the victim apart from the physical injuries to his/her body.“
The editorial pointed out that despite the growing number of child abuse, it was “unfortunate and distressing“ that the society treated the crime as a taboo. The parents and elders of families are neither educating their children about abusive behaviour nor are they ensuring that such crimes do not happen within families or in the neighbourhood.
The most damaging and distressing of these crimes is the sexual abuse of young children. There has been a 33 per cent rise in these crimes and both boys and girls are victims of this evil. The NGO study found that sexual abuse of children happened in all age groups, ethnicity and socio-economic classes. and socioeconomic classes.
Thee Sahil report showed that the majority (63 per cent ) of cases were reported from Punjab, followed by 34 per cent from Pak occupied Kashmir, 27 per cent from Sindh, and rest from other provinces.
According to the study, the major crimes against children were abduction 923, sodomy 589, rape 537, missing children 452, attempt of rape 345, gang sodomy 282, gang rape 156 and 99 cases of child marriages. A troubling finding has been that the increase in sodomy cases a phenomenal 61% while rape cases increased by15% as compared to the year 2017.
The study found that while 86% cases were registered with the police, in 56 cases the police refused to register any case, and 39 cases remained unregistered with police.
The well-known English daily, Dawn, in an editorial pointed out that “ so many children — with no agency, and taught from a young age to obey and not question adults — suffer in silence, particularly due to the culture of shame surrounding the topic. In many cases, the perpetrators of sexual abuse and violence are acquainted with the victim and/or his/her family members.
By Farooq Ganderbali