LAHORE: All forms of child abuse can have both, long-term and short-term ramifications, Rehel founder Zai Ali Paul said on Thursday.
Paul made the remarks while speaking at a discussion on child abuse and how to curb the phenomenon psychologically, socially and legally. She said no two children reacted to abuse similarly. Some, Paul said, exhibited no overt effect while others demonstrated a myriad of signs. In 2013, she said, around 3,000 cases of child abuse were reported. Paul said this had risen to 3,500 by 2014.
Children Empowerment Association Pakistan (CEAP) founder Tehmina Shahid said child abuse was a global phenomenon. She said preventing it was not as difficult as it was often made out to be. “With the right set of vocabulary and skills we can curb it. For that we need to open up our minds and let experts educate,” Shahid said.
Paul said children aged four and less were most susceptible to abuse. She said the most important thing in this regard was to listen. “Whenever your child airs such problems, you must believe what they are telling you come what may,” Paul said. Narrating several incidents of child abuse, she said, onlookers often ignored such instances due to the “benefits” their relationship with the abuser accrued. She said the fact that abusing children was an addiction was another reason why the phenomenon tended to be recurring. “Place your grandfather, father or mother in jail if they have abused children. As long as there is a door out and someone keeps ignoring it, child abuse will keep taking place,” Paul said. Despite the heinous nature of the crime, she said, offenders had the right to have access to counselling and rehabilitation in dignity.
CEAP legal adviser Adan Abid shed light on issues pertinent to cases of child abuse in the context of the judicial system. Abid said the problem with this was that instances of child abuse were not taken seriously unless a particularly gruesome episode of child abuse transpired. “There is a need to define what exactly constitutes child abuse,” he said.
The discussion was jointly organised by the Community Service Society at LUMS and the CEAP.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2016.
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