Child sexual abuses on the rise in Pakistan

As many as 2,960 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in the media, according to Sahil’s annual report published in March this year, representing a four per cent increase compared to 2019…reports Asian Lite News

Child sexual abuse cases are rising steadily in Pakistan and both boys are girls are vulnerable to such horrific attacks, which involves influential people as well.

Barkat Ali Ansari, Sindh Provincial Coordinator of Sahil, an organisation working for child protection, told The Express Tribune that in many child sexual cases, influential people are involved, so cases are not registered.

“The influential people tell police they will decide something [with the family] on the issue between themselves and the case does not end getting registered the case. Moreover, police also don’t register cases without medical reports,” he said.

Ansari further informed that in most sexual violence cases, the culprits are known to their victims, such as neighbours, family friends, teachers or even relatives.

As many as 2,960 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in the media, according to Sahil’s annual report published in March this year, representing a four per cent increase compared to 2019.

An analysis of the data reveals that in 2020, out of the total reported cases, 985 cases were reported of sodomy, 787 cases were rape, 89 cases were pornography and child sexual abuse, and 80 cases were reported of murder after child sexual abuse, whereas 834 cases were reported of abduction, reported The Express Tribune.

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Sexual abuse against boys is much more common than people believe, according to Developmental Psychologist at the Aga Khan University Waliyah Mughis.

“Both, female and male victims can struggle to be believed by others but the taboo surrounding male child victims maybe even higher. Regardless of gender, the harmful effects of sexual violence are the same for males and females: guilt, self-blame, anger, fear, confusion, distrust, difficulty at school and work, difficulty forming and maintaining trusting relationships, increased risk of substance misuse and self-harm,” she said.

The Imran Khan-led government has the resources to work in this area but has done little to mitigate the problem, as millions of rupees has been allocated which lapses for not being utilised, and every year the government cannot establish a proper system to protect children, reported The Express Tribune.

Ansari said that the Sindh Child Protection Authority (SCPA) Act introduced in 2011 but the provincial government has taken no positive steps to implement these provisions that are in the greatest interest of the people.

“These children have to appear in courts later and if they are traumatised, they cannot speak before their abusers. Therefore, there is a need to provide them counselling and family support,” said Ansari.

Elaborating about the impact on children, Mughis said: “The effect of the trauma can continue into adulthood, especially if not dealt with at the right time. Such violence and harassment can affect a child’s thought process, feelings, mental and physical health, the quality of their relationships, their faith and trust in others, as well as their occupational and academic success.”

Some children may become withdrawn and isolate themselves from others, while other children may act more emotionally and sexually mature than is age-appropriate for them, she says, reported The Express Tribune.

She also highlighted that children are not taken for counselling because it takes them longer to get past the trauma of sexual abuse, yet there is no substitute for professional help and family support.

Out of the total 2,960 reported cases in 2020, 1,915 (65 per cent) cases were reported from rural areas, while 1,045 (35 per cent) cases are reported from urban areas, The Express Tribune reported. (ANI)

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