by Zia Ur Rehman
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
In the wake of a shocking child sexual abuse scandal surfacing in Punjab, the organisations working for child rights said there were thousands of such cases across Pakistan and the situation was becoming worse with each passing year.
Recently, the Punjab police discovered 400 videos of over 280 children in Kasur district being forced to have sex. In 2009, 2,012 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in the country and the figure increased to 3,508 in 2014, according to the War Against Rape (WAR), a non-governmental organization working against sexual abuse.
The gender distribution of 2014 statistics shows that 2,141 (61 percent) girls and 1,367 (39 percent) boys were sexually assaulted.
These figures only reflect the tip of the iceberg, as they do not include thousands of cases of rape, sodomy, incest and other forms of sexual violence and blackmail that takes place in this connection, as they go unreported.
Rukhsana Siddiqui, the WAR’s programme officer, said the actual number of child sexual abuse cases was much higher as many people do not report them because of socio-cultural norms.
“Recent statistics also show that there is an increase in the percentage of sexual abuse incidents with male children,” Siddique told The News.
“Child sexual abuse cases reported in 2014 have shockingly increased by 43 percent in comparison with those during the last six years,” she added.
As per 50 cases of child sexual abuse in Karachi that WAR has investigated in recent years, the most vulnerable age group vulnerable to sexual assaults is between five and 13 years (49 percent). Fourteen of these cases occurred in Gulberg Town, followed by 12 in Clifton.
Police officials corroborated the estimated statistics. “Because our society is so conservative, people don’t talk about it and the survivors themselves don’t report to police,” said an investigation officer at the Sharafi Goth police station.
In the past, cases related to the child sexual abuse were published in newspapers using humiliating words that caused more harm to the survivor’s cause than doing any good.
Aoun Sahi, an Islamabad-based media trainer, said unfortunately the faces of the Kasur sexual abuse survivors were shown by the Pakistani media.
“It’s the need of the hour to train journalists as to how to report rape incidents,” he added.
The WAR said the federal government must immediately bring to justice the people involved in the sexual crimes that occurred in Kasur and also ensure that those who were abetting these criminals were also arrested.
It added that the government and the relevant authorities were trying to ignore or cover-up this heinous crime, and if they did not act now, sexual violence against children and women was likely to increase.