LAHORE:At least 3,852 children – 2,068 girls and 1,784 boys – were sexually abused across Pakistan in 2021, Sahil, an NGO that works against child abuse, revealed in its report titled ‘Cruel Number’ on Friday.
As per report, at least 10 children were abused every day during the last year. According to categories used by the NGO, 1,060 cases were reported for abduction; 410 cases for rape; 483 cases for sodomy, 146 cases for gang rape and 234 cases were reported for gang sodomy. At least 22 boys and 18 girls were murdered after sexual abuse whereas at least 10 boys and three girls were murdered after gang sodomy and rape, said the report.
At least 438 children were found missing from their homes. There were 58 cases of early child marriage and seven cases of Vani, a 400-year-old tradition of forced child marriage. The NGO’s report further stated that acquaintance with the victim and the victim’s family topped the list of perpetrators of child sexual abuse. The statistics showed that out of 3,852 cases, there were at least 1,715 cases where the abusers had acquaintance with victims or the victim’s families.
At least 289 cases were reported in which strangers were involved in abusing children. At least 223 children were aged 0-5 years; 821 were aged 6-10 years; 1,320 were aged between 11-15; whereas 460 were aged 16-18 years. There were 1028 cases in which the age of victims was not mentioned in news reports, said the report. At least 447 children were abused in their own places, 1,715 were abused at acquaintances’ places, 23 children in havelis, 49 children in madrasa; 35 children at workplaces and 643 children in public places including fields, streets, graveyards, canals and jungles.
At least 2,464 children were sexually abused in Punjab including 150 in Lahore. At least 885 children were abused in Sindh; at least 47 children were abused in Balochistan and at least 195 children were assaulted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. One child was abused in Gilgit-Baltistan while in Azad Jammu Kashmir, at least 13 children were abused. At least 247 children were abused in the federal areas. The NGO report also stated that at least 3,217 incidents were reported to respective police stations. At least 333 cases were reported in newspapers with incomplete information. In order to curb the menace of sexual abuse, the NGO also gave five recommendations. It called for an effective awareness campaign for the protection of children from this evil besides introducing new legislation. The NGO also urged the govt for a comprehensive rehabilitation/support system for the victims of abuse.
The protection messages should be included in the curriculum, it said, adding that a “provincial plan of action against child sexual abuse and exploitation” should also be provided.