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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

8 children are sexually abused every day in Pakistan, report

The latest report by Sahil has some very disturbing statistics for the civil society, media and the incumbent government. Now the question is what should the government do? Is public hanging of the child rapists only way forward?

As many as eight children were sexually abused every day in Pakistan in 2019, according to a new report, which shows a 25 percent decrease from the previous year. These figures seem to be alarming as they expose the government’s inability to protect children. The incumbent government has, however, repeatedly maintained that all efforts are being made to ensure that no child is abused across the country.

In 2019, a total of 2,846 cases of child abuse were reported from all four provinces of Pakistan, as well as Islamabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, as per Sahil, an Islamabad-based NGO working for child protection.

Of the total, 778 were abductions, 405 children went missing, 384 were cases of sodomy, 279 of rape, 210 of attempted rape, 205 of gang sodomy cases and 115 of gang rape, the data showed. In addition, 104 child marriage cases were also reported from across the country.

Majority of the victims, 54 per cent, were girls, while 46 per cent were boys. The most vulnerable age group was between six-15 years. Although children as young as 0-5 years were also sexually abused, stated the report.

Read more: Good Touch & Bad Touch: Rampant Child Sexual Abuse in Pakistan

There were at least 70 cases identified related to pornography. In 2018, a total of 3,832 cases of child abuse were reported by Sahil in Pakistan.

It is worth noting that recently the National Assembly passed a resolution to publicly hang the child rapists with an overwhelming majority. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Mohammad Khan, presented the bill on Friday. The bill called for the death sentence and public execution of the child rapists in the public. The extreme punishment will deter potential predators and rapists from sexually abusing minors, the minister said.

PM Imran Khan is committed to protect children

According to a previous report of the same NGO, in Lahore only, there were 50 incidents reported last year while nine children had been abducted and 12 reported missing from January to June 2019. January to June data gave grim numbers as it included five incidents of rape, seven of sodomy, three of gang rape and five of gang sodomy.

The most common perpetrator of the child sex abuse was an acquaintance with the victim and the victim’s family. Out of a total of 1,304 cases, 614 cases were such where the abusers had acquaintance with victims or victim’s family. In all, 142 cases were reported in which strangers were involved in abusing children.

Read more: Child abuse: What Pakistan must do to curb it?

Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the authorities to take stern action against those involved in the inhumane crime of child abuse. He expressed shock over children’s rape and pornography scams surfacing in Kasur and Chunian. He reportedly directed the chief minister and senior officials to engage religious scholars, notables, schoolteachers and parents and offer them proper training and awareness to save children from falling prey to criminals.

Mr Khan also ordered strict action against the mafias involved in different crimes. “I will be standing behind the officials who feel pressurised from influential criminals,” he said.

Recently, several cases of child abuse were reported from Lahore and its neighbouring cities which drew the attention of local as well as global media. PM Imran has said more than once that it was the paramount responsibility of the state to protest children.

PM’s Special Adviser on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan said that Prime Minister Imran Khan proposed death penalty be fixed for all those involved in child abuse. He had expressed this resolve during a meeting of the federal cabinet, showing concern over the rise in misuse of the internet for child pornography and a subsequent increase in incidents of child abuse.

Read ,ore: ‘Aurat March’ in Pakistan: Feminists vs Mullahs!

According to Awan, the prime minister addressed in detail the ministries of human rights, law, and especially the interior ministry, and gave them the responsibility of examining, assessing and analyzing the existing juvenile laws regarding sexual violence, sexual exploitation, rape of children, and other violent behaviours.

“All three ministries have been instructed to get together on this, prepare an implementation plan and bring it before the cabinet so that this growing menace can be curbed with an effective law and a mechanism of deterrence, as well as awareness, can be created,” she said.

Experts believe that effective legislation is key to protect children across the country. The current government is particularly focusing on finding out ways which may help to ensure the security of every child in rural as well as urban areas of Pakistan.