Pakistan: Rise in incidents of child sexual abuse
ISLAMABAD: Child sexual abuse in Pakistan is on the rise and according to reports published in various newspapers, the number of such incidents has jumped from 1,746 in year 2017 to 2,327 in the year 2018 registering 33 per cent rise in a year.
According to a report titled “Cruel Numbers 2018” published by a non-government organisation (NGO) working for the rights of children, Sahil, Punjab with 2,403 cases of child abuse has remained ahead of other provinces. Sindh with 1,016 comes second, 145 cases were reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in 2018, 130 in Islamabad, 98 from Balochistan and only six in Gilgit Balochistan.
While talking to Gulf News, Senior Programme Officer of Sahil, Sohail Ahmad said volunteers of Sahil compile reports and collect data every year from January 1 to December 31 and by end of March or beginning of April next year the report is shared.
This year’s report has been compiled by Sahil volunteers across the country, he said, adding, “Our volunteers work round the year to get information from newspapers and local media.”
To a question, he said child abuse is a broader term and his NGO categorises it in four parts, namely, sexual abuse, abduction, missing children and child marriage.
However, he said in almost all the four categories, the abuses results in child sexual exploitation.
The overall cases of child abuse reported in papers have increased by 11 per cent in year 2018 as compared to 2017, which means more than 10 children are abused daily, he said.
According to “Cruel Numbers 2018” around 3,832 child abuse cases were reported by newspapers in all four provinces as well as in Islamabad, Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. In 2017 the number was, 3,445.
The report has been compiled by monitoring 85 regional and national newspapers, and from the cases that have been reported. Sahil has been releasing the report for the past 18 years without fail.
According to the report, the trend of more girls being victims than boys in abuse cases was not consistent in all categories; the report found that girls were more vulnerable to child sexual abuse than boys in the age brackets of up to 5 years and 16-18 years while boys were found to be more vulnerable to sexual abuse in the age brackets of 6-10 years and 11-15 years.
According to Ahmad, in most cases the children are sexually abused by close acquaintances like family elder, father or brother’s friends, even siblings.
Sexual abuse by teachers and religious prayer leaders has also been frequently reported during the year 2018. Referring to the recent case of a girl raped by her three brothers in Golra area of Islamabad reported last week, Ahmad’s programme officer said cases of incest have also been reported and included in the report.
To a question, he said his NGO not only documented such cases, it also approached the victims and families and provided them free legal aid to get justice. A helpline is also established for the victims to directly report their cases.