I am doing my Bachelors in Peace and Conflict Studies from National Defense University Islamabad
Child abuse is a rampant problem in Pakistan. Each day 12-15 children are abused either by complete strangers or more commonly by trustworthy relatives. Most of them do not even report the incident and if they do, they are first hushed down by their families and if not then they are hushed by the police. Abuse victims grow up to develop several problems e.g substance abuse, brain impairment etc. These cases seldom achieve justice, however, the involvement of media ensures justice is served. There have been several cases on social media such as Zainab rape case, Kasur pornography case and the rape of a 2-year-old as mentioned below. The Pakistani government does have a lot of strategies to help cope with this problem but lack of implementation leads to this problem’s growth. Police are often seen involved in such crimes as well. However, there are some viable solutions that can help eradicate this curse upon society.
Child abuse has always been a societal taboo, which prevents any actions to be taken against it. However, it is a severe issue that affects thousands of children every year. Approximately 12 children are abused every day. According to a report published by Sahil on 1st September 2018, 2322 children were abused in the past 6 months. The National Assembly of Pakistan claimed 17862 children were abused in 2018 out of which 10620 were girls and 7242 were boys.
Important Facts About Child Abuse
- The abusers are not always complete strangers; rather they are usually close relatives like fathers, brothers, uncles or neighbours. In fact, 95% of the abused children are a victim of close, trustworthy relatives who are abusers.
- The most vulnerable age in which children are abused or sexually assaulted is between the age of 3 and 8 (Browne and Lynch, 1994). This is the age when children are not exactly aware of what is happening to them thus have a hard time reporting it, this encourages the abusers.
- In the majority of the cases they adults refuse to believe the children, 1 in 3 adults wouldn’t believe if they were entrusted with this information and would actually try to silence the kids. (Australian Childhood Foundation, 2010)
- 73% of the children refuse to disclose this information to anyone for a year, 45% do not tell for 5 years and some never tell anyone ever. (Broman Fulks et al, 2007)
Effects of Child Abuse on the Victim
- It impairs brain development
- It leads to poor physical health
- It causes psychological issues like depression, PTSD and anxiety
- It prevents the victim from developing long meaning for relationships because every time the victim gets close to someone, the trauma comes back.
- It leads to substance abuse such as drug addictions, alcoholism etc.
- The victims are unable to act normal and develop severe behavioural issues. They prefer isolation, get angry easily etc.
- They become abusive to others, in most cases, they grow up to be abusers themselves.
Zainab Murder and Rape Case
Zainab was a 7-year-old girl from Kasur who was raped and murdered whilst her parents were away for pilgrimage. After her murder, her body was dumped on top of a pile of garbage. Unlike most child rape cases, this case actually received justice as media got involved and helped spread awareness about child abuse. Her rapist was given the death penalty, however, he has not yet been hanged.
Rape of a Two Year Old in Islamabad
Recently a 2-year-old was raped by her neighbour in Islamabad. She went to visit her grandparents with her mother. Her mother left her playing in the yard; however after she returned after a while, the child was gone. After some time her mother found her coming out of the neighbour's house crying, with bloodied clothes. Her mother went to investigate but he was in the bathroom. When he came out he said “I didn’t do anything” despite the fact the mother did not even ask what he did, showcasing typical guilty behaviour. Her mother immediately took her to the hospital where the initial medical exam showed that she had been raped.
Kasur Pornography Case
The Kasur Child Sexual Abuse Scandal is a series of sexual abuses that occurred in Hussain Khanwala village in Kasur district from 2006 to 2014. This later became a major political scandal in 2015. Hundreds of videos surfaced, showing children doing several forced sexual acts, estimated 280-300 children, most of whom were male were victims of this abuse. This scandal involved an organized crime ring that was selling this pornography to porn sites and then blackmailed the families of victims.
The government of Pakistan has devised certain laws and strategies to help protect these children for example:
- Article 11: no child labour is allowed below the age of 14
- Article 25: free primary and secondary education for all children of all ages
- Child protection (criminal law) bill was passed in 2009 and along with a charter of children rights.
- A child protection system bill was passed in 2014.
However, these strategies are completely useless unless the repercussions for violating them are actually put into action.
There can be many possible solutions to end this problem for example;
- There need to be public executions of the abusers. Once you hang one, there will not be another.
- Sex education needs to be made a compulsory course in schools and colleges where they teach you about good touch and bad touch.
- Medical resources need to be made readily available, and going to the hospital after such an incident takes place should not be a taboo
- The larger budget needs to be allocated for federal and provincial budgets for children specific programmes and activities.
- Implementation of the laws and child protection strategies already devised by the government.
© 2019 Hadia Malik