Child abuse cases on the rise in Pakistan

Khadijah Shah

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN: Child sexual abuse (CSA) cases are on the rise in the country. In 2007, the number of such cases was four per day but that has risen to 5.4 cases per day during January to June 2008.

According to Sahil, an NGO working for child rights and protection, the actual figures could be much higher than the reported cases since many such incidents go unreported. “It is difficult to measure the prevalence of CSA in our society. Many incidents go unreported, especially those committed by the children’s family members,” Rubina Shams of Sahil told ROD on Friday.

According to the statistics gathered by Sahil, 992 children were sexually abused in the first six months of 2008, and out of those 69 percent (688) were girls. The number of boys subjected to sexual violence was 304.

The girls were reportedly abused over longer periods of time as compared to the boys.

The major categories of such crimes were abduction and gang rape of girls, and sodomy and gang sodomy for boys.

Statistics also show that 75 percent of such children were targeted by ‘known’ adults and 25 percent by strangers. The ‘known’ adults included neighbours, relatives, religiouse clerics, close family members, teachers, friends, security guards, employers, brick kiln owners and shopkeepers. The strangers included policemen, drivers and landlords.

Around six percent female perpetrators were also involved in these crime.

The children, both girls and boys, between 11 to 15 years of age are more vulnerable to sexual abuse. Thirty percent boys and 22 percent girl victims of abuse were from this same age group.

Sixty seven percent of such cases were reported in the Punjab, the most populous province of the country, followed by Sindh 26 percent, Islamabad 3.8 percent, the NWFP 1.9 percent, Balochistan 0.7 percent and Azad Jammu and Kashmir cases 0.5 percent.

Rural and urban area wise percentage stood 69 percent and 31 percent respectively. Mostly, markets, under-construction houses, hospitals, Madrasas, mosques and shrines happened to be the places of abuse.

In many reported cases, an abuser committed sexual crime as a form of punishment or for the sake of revenge. Some girls were raped by those who were interested in marrying them but their proposal was declined either by the girls or their families.

Surprisingly, unlike the past when the stigma attached with sexual abuse prevented families from reporting such cases to police, parents of 81 percent victims of child sexual abuse approached law-enforcers for help. With some cases settled out of court, police and courts processed majority of these cases. Abusers got death, jail and fine depending on the nature of child abuse.

Child sexual abuse is not just an individual or family problem, said Shams. She supposed the effects of sexual abuse on victims were devastating and life-long, and on society pervasive. She believed Sahil had taken the initiative of collecting child abuse figures reported in the press to educate parents on the vulnerability of their children to abuse and ways and means for their protection.

She also urged people to help child abuse victims in overcoming the intense trauma, which might be life long, instead of blaming them for the unfortunate happening.

Ferhan Mazher
Chairman (Rays of Development Organization, Sargodha, Pakistan)

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1 Comment

  1. Your work is very much needed and also very sensitive


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