On average, 12 children suffered sexual abuse every day in Pakistan from January to June 2023.
A recent report by Sahil, a non-profit organisation that advocates for children’s protection, has revealed harrowing details about child sexual abuse (CSA) in Pakistan. On average, 12 children suffered sexual abuse every day in Pakistan from January to June 2023. As many as 4,253 cases of child abuse were reported in 2022, half of which were of sexual abuse. These figures are just the tip of the iceberg.
In cases of sexual abuse, the abusers are usually a relative or an acquaintance of the child who either blackmail victims into remaining silent or families themselves avoid reporting the cases to the police to avoid shame, ostracisation, etc. The unregulated use of social media has further emboldened abusers as they have gone as far as grooming vulnerable children online and engaging in child pornography. Children of all socioeconomic backgrounds face the threat of sexual abuse, particularly because it is easier to exploit young and vulnerable minds. Even though the government and non-profit organisations have launched programmes to improve awareness about CSA and deter people from committing these crimes, little has changed. While effective law enforcement and strict punishments can prevent these crimes to some extent, there is a need to probe deeper into the inclinations of the criminal-minded to curb this menace.
Perhaps, law enforcement agencies should collaborate with individuals working in criminal psychology to better understand the mindset of convicted criminals and address these tendencies in mainstream society. In addition, parents should be made stakeholders in the process and must be informed about ways to communicate with their children through televised and social media campaigns. If left unaddressed, CSA will not only continue to rise but have far-reaching implications for our society. Therefore, we need effective legislation and law enforcement along with sensitised police officials to assist the victims and their families.