IF the extent of sexual violence against women and children is any measure of a society`s moral degradation, then a survey of national newspapers is enough to send chills down one`s spine. Their pages on a daily basis carry accounts about sexual violence against these segments of the populace. However, the most consistent public outrage is often not about the above-mentioned issues but related to the real or perceived financial and political misdeeds of leaders.
According to a monthly report compiled by two NGOs, as many as 108 children and 85 women were raped across the country in the month of July alone. What is also striking is that a majority of the incidents of sexual violence have been recorded in Punjab, the most populous but also the most `developed` province of the country. Out of the 108 children who were sexually abused, 42 were in Punjab, 32 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 21 in Sindh. Similarly, among the women who were subjected to sexual violence, 47 were from Punjab, 16 from Sindh, 11 from KP, 10 from Islamabad and one from Balochistan. Though these numbers might seem low to some, they constitute only the reported cases, the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
Last month, a top FIA official speaking at an event in Karachi said that while 2m images of child sexual abuse were uploaded in 2021 in the country, `only` 343 cases of child sexual abuse were reported over five years. What is it that prevents our society from expressing the same moral outrage at these reprehensible acts that they would at someone who steals material possessions? The misguided sense of shame which tends to silence victims after they have been robbed of their dignity, peace of mind and sense of security is also what makes perpetrators of these crimes act with impunity. It is about time our state and society collectively decide to shun and shame those guilty of such crimes, instead of tolerating and justifying such behaviour.