Child abuse is a serious issue in Pakistan and it needs to be resolved at the earliest by employing all means available. In this regard, we must first admit that this bitter reality does exist in our country. Then, we need to talk about this menace to our children; there’s no shame in letting your kids know what is dangerous for them outside and even inside the home. Child abuse happens in each and every community. Parents must never assume that their kids are safe. They must always be vigilant and protective toward their children and they must also educate their kids with the worst-case story. This is not a joke and kids need to know what really happens if they go with strangers. Unfortunately, in a country such as Pakistan, sexual abuse of children as well as paedophilia has become no less than a norm. Who is to be blamed for this fiasco?
A report which was released earlier in 2016 stated that during the past decade nearly 30,800 children were sexually abused and molested by either men or women in Pakistan. And, it means that, at least, 10 children per day. And, another report, published in Dawn, stated, the one in seventy-eight boys against the ratio of one in fifty-six girls were sexually molested and abused in the past years, highlighting an increase in this traumatizing crime rate against innocent boys and girls. Because, normally, it is accepted that girls are more likely to be the victims of sexual abuse and are more prone to such heinous acts. However, the case was entirely reverse and different as per that particular Dawn report. It stated that children, especially boys, who go out to play more often than girls are easily trapped. And, I also have a bone to pick with those parents who claim that it is necessary for a child to go out in the society because otherwise how would (s)he socialize with the outside world if (s)he stays at home? I would assert that there are many alternative ways to socialize. Why not read a book? Do something more productive; reconnect your child with his/her siblings, And, I think, this is another huge problem for the society and a highly important issue that really needs to be addressed by the families themselves. Those who claim that in this way people think of them awkward are highly ignorant. I know many parents who work round the clock to make ends meet. They hire domestic help and housekeepers to look after their children. But do you really want that? Do you really want an unknown person to come up and take care of your kids when you are away? What if a situation arises where your child’s future is endangered and he/she is prone to sexual exploitation by a person you have no idea about? So, as parents, it is your own responsibility to look after your child rather than hiring a housekeeper or a babysitter for that purpose.
It is a very grave concern because children are very naive and innocent especially those in the 4-10 years age group. In this age, they are not expressive or cautious enough to see the lust in a person’s eyes or understand what he intends to. So, they won’t be able to comprehend an abnormal or unusual behaviour; and even if they do, they won’t talk. They won’t express as much as parents want them to. So, parents need to keep a vigilant eye not only on their children but also on those who they hire as domestic help.
Parents also need to come up with more robust solutions to this very problem. Owing to the societal taboos and looming questions over safeguarding a child’s future, many parents shy from discussing it with others. But, they need to assume that responsibility as parents to take extreme care of their children and to really help them achieve certain goals in terms of their future and not jeopardizing their future. The Government of Pakistan has, till now, adopted impotent policies. We just don’t need them; we need long-term, robust policies that ensure a brighter future for the children. We need more solution-based agencies as there is a difference between reporting cases and fighting solutions. If parents band together on the same subject matter, we can save not only the lives of millions of children in Pakistan but also of those across the globe. As it’s a global concern for humanity.
The brutal rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab in Kasur is not a one-off incident. As many as 11 cases of child sexual abuse are reported from across Pakistan every day, according to data collected by non-governmental organisation Sahil that works on child protection with a special focus on sexual abuse.
According to the latest numbers released by Sahil, a total of 1,764 cases of child abuse were reported from across the country in the first six months of 2017 alone.
In the previous year, the total number of reported child abuse cases stood at a staggering 4,139, bringing the total number of children being abused in Pakistan per day to 11.
According to data from Sahil, out of the total cases of child abuse from January to June 2017, 62 percent were reported from Punjab; 27 percent of cases reported were from Sindh province, while 76, 58, 42, and nine cases reported from Balochistan, FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, respectively.
The number of cases reported from rural areas amounted to 74 percent, while the number of cases reported from urban areas increased by 10 percent as compared to the comparable period in 2016.
Last year, a 17 percent decrease was reported in child abuse cases as compared to the previous year. From January to June, a total of 1,764 cases of child abuse were reported as compared to the 2,127 cases for the same period in 2016.
Even in Kasur — which became the centre of a massive child abuse case in 2014 and 2015 — the rape and murders of 12 minor girls, all aged between five to eight years, have been reported in the past twelve months.