In 12 years, 24725 cases of child sexual abuse reported in Pakistan

Islamabad: In Pakistan, 24725 cases of child sexual abuse reported by NGOs in 12 years from 2002 to 2013. Of the total reported cases, 68 percent were from Punjab province, 21 percent from Sindh, 5.5 percent from Islamabad, 3 percent from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 2 percent from Balochistan and remaining from GB and AJK (Azad Jammu Kashmir. In AJK and GB reporting of the child sexual abuse cases is latest phenomena. In GB till 2010, and in AJK till 2006, no case of child sexual abuse was monitored.

Sahil NGO played important role in monitoring of these cases; and, some role is being played by Rozan, LHLRA and SPARC NGOs. These NGOs monitored cases reported in Pakistani media and also directly reported by their field offices.

Of the total reported cases of child sexual abuse, 71 percent were girls. The number of reported cases increased every year. In 2002, total 688 cases were reported, in 2013, the number reached to 3002 cases. Child sexual abuse is frighteningly common in homes, schools, and residential care facilities in Pakistan.

Though every year a big number of cases of child sexual abuse were reported but there were taken no serious and long term advocacy efforts by the civil society organizations to influence the governments for introducing stringent measures for the protection of children in communities, schools, work places, mosques, fields and detention centers.

Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, comes on the third number after Punjab and Sindh. Islamabad has no child protection law and system in place to protect children from abuse, violence and exploitation. Sindh comes on the second where laws exist but implementation is zero. Since June 2011, the Sindh Child Protection Authority Act exists but the government has not notified the Authority and its Rules. Punjab has always alarming number of cases of child sexual abuse, but the governments have taken no serious measures. AJK, Balochistan and GB are without child protection laws.

Child sexual abuse is a silent endemic that is taking place in every corner of the country, creating social disorder for the children, adult survivors and society as whole. It can be prevented and it can be treated with a conscious and sustained effort by government and civil society organizations.

Besides lack of effective legal framework, there is absence of ‘will’ and ‘commitment’ of governments. Since 2009, the Child Protection Criminal Law amendment Bill has been pending, it remained victim of bureaucratic intricacies. It could not reach the parliament. In 2009, the Committee on the Rights of the Child had urged Pakistan to enact the pending bills including the Child Protection Criminal Law Amendment Bill and the National Commission on the Rights of the Child Bill.

On emergency basis, there are required efforts for raising awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse by educating adults and children about the steps they can take to prevent, recognize and react the cases or intention for child sexual abuse.