Violence and abuse – 16 Sep 2022

According to a recent report, cases of violence against women and children seem to be on the decline

Cases of violence against women and children seem to be on the decline, according to a recent report. Unfortunately, despite the decline, 136 kidnappings, 71 rapes and 114 cases of sexual abuse of children were reported in August. That comes out to about four children being sexually abused every day on average, and over two rape cases, and that is only cases that are reported — it is universally acknowledged that a large number of sexual crimes go unreported.

In fact, some of the numbers in the Sustainable Social Development Organisation-Centre for Research, Development and Communication report stand out as likely examples of underreporting. For example, of the 87 cases of physical assaults on women nationwide, only two were reported in Balochistan. Of the 83 domestic violence cases, Balochistan reported six, just one more than Islamabad. Meanwhile, Islamabad actually had more kidnapping cases than Balochistan, if we are to rely on reported cases alone. Islamabad also had significantly more child sexual abuse and child kidnapping cases reported than Balochistan. This reflects how, despite looking at 13 mainstream newspapers every day, the study’s authors were constrained by social taboos which stand in the way of victims reporting their ordeals.

The report also faults the papers themselves, noting that some — not all — regularly named sex crime victims, which could lead to further emotional trauma and social ostracisation for the victims. But, coming back to the cases, despite the recorded declines, many experts are predicting a spike in violence against women and children as a result of the massive displacement of people due to the floods. Meanwhile, the high reporting of cases in Punjab is not necessarily because more crimes against women occur in the province, but because victims in the province are more willing to come forward. Unfortunately, even those who come forward face an ordeal, as it can take years fighting for justice, especially for victims from lower-income or less influential backgrounds.

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