Are we purposely ignoring child sexual abuse in Pakistan (and our homes)?

The sexual abuse rate of young boys has doubled this year in comparison with girls of the same age (6-10 years).

Haider Rifaat November 28, 2015
The Pakistani media’s convincing rhetoric regarding the term sexual abuse and heart wrenching words such as ‘rape’ and ‘molestation’ have rightly highlighted the unjust practices that continue to affect our society. However, at times (or always) the hidden truth remains buried in the ground and the untold stories of millions are seldom brought to light.

How many of you had the slightest idea that your helpless seven-year-old son, who wholeheartedly recited the Holy Quran alongside his so-called honest and unadulterated qaari sahib, was being sexually abused continuously in a barricaded room? We enjoy labelling ourselves as humble and modest beings when in truth we are the ones perpetuating brutality to its core.

I came across many cases that involved such immoral and repulsive acts of violence, especially in Pakistan where everything seems black and white, having no middle ground whatsoever. A recent report summarised the sexual abuse rate of young boys doubling this year in comparison with girls of the same age (between six to 10 years). The ratio of boys to girls was 178 to 152, highlighting an increase in the sexual abuse rate against children this year.

Mumtaz Gohar, a spokesperson for Sahil, an organisation that works exclusively on the issue of child sexual abuse and exploitation, stated,
“The reason for this is that more boys go out of (their) home(s) to play in the streets and are easily trapped.”

But sadly, there are no laws to safeguard the dignity of these young boys because, at most times, girls are the ones glorified as the only victims of sexual abuse.

This year, a six-year-old boy was raped and killed by a man in Lahore at a mosque near Green Town. Similarly in Multan, a Pakistani teenager was kidnapped and assaulted multiple times. Shortly after, the young lad committed suicide when the police refused to file a report and indirectly taunted him.

Even then, our media is busy reporting stories of women being abandoned by their husbands. Is that the only thing that really matters? Do our stories simply end there?

Where are the unheard voices of those young, innocent boys who hadn’t even reached puberty and were molested by middle-aged men? Does their story belong in the trash can? Yes, they are young and susceptible but these core social concerns will not come to light if we persistently ignore them.

I, for one, believe that Pakistan’s definition of violence simply revolves around women. Perhaps, we’ve accustomed ourselves with the notion that women are the sole victims of sexual abuse. However, the current child abuse rate in Pakistan is rapidly progressing and very few policies (or none at all) have been implemented to safeguard the dignity of thousands of children subject to sexual abuse.

As an individual, I strongly believe that prior to employing a housekeeper or a home tutor, parents ought to consider alternative options. Instead of hiring a teacher, why not preach the Holy Quran to your child yourself? Does it really have to be a well-read Muslim tutor to inculcate the fundamentals of Islam to your child? What is unfortunate is that we are more likely to conform to these self-constructed norms when in truth it’s all about breaking the social barriers to get the truth out.

Maybe Pakistan is not ready to discuss child abuse as a topic for a news program, especially when young boys are abused by the same gender. We are not at all prude when it comes to discussing women being raped, so why have objections over other important matters?

I am not saying that men are solely responsible for such abhorrent practices, but I am accusing those ignorant, prude and hypocritical Pakistanis who completely neglect the fact that, by and large, a boy can also be abused by a man. It all boils down to one, hot-headed question – are we really capable of discussing such bold matters or is that against our Islamic fundamentals?

As a Pakistani, I strongly encourage parents to be more vigilant and protective about their children’s future. It only takes a second to destroy a life, but with parents united on the matter of child abuse, millions of lives can be protected for a brighter future.
Haider Rifaat

The writer is a features writer for OK! Pakistan, the international edition of OK! Magazine, and a contributing writer to the Montreal-based Flanelle Magazine. Haider is pursuing a Master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and currently works at the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center. For seven seasons, he served as the creator and host of Pakistan's first web talk show on YouTube -" target="_blank">The Haider Rifaat Show. He currently produces and hosts two podcasts—" target="_blank">Cancer Answers and" target="_blank">Conversations with Haider Rifaat. An actor by profession, Haider has appeared in several Pakistani television projects including Sabaat, Hamare Dada Ki Wasiyat and Kuch Sach Kuch Kahani. He can be reached on email at and on" target="_blank">Instagram and" target="_blank">Twitter

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Abdullah Bin Shahid | 7 years ago | Reply You're right! There are stories that remain untold! People think looking very nice with face is nice too from in. I used to hate bearded ones at times.
asad | 8 years ago | Reply It is easy to sit behind a screen and write a brave comment. Most of the victims at their premature age are not clear about their personal boundaries mainly because in our society parents do not feel comfortable talking about this matter
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