LAHORE: One out of every six children is likely to be sexually abused before turning 18 and 93% of the victims know their abuser while 25% of the abusers are female.
These facts and figures were shared at the screening of “In plain sight - A documentary on child sexual abuse in Pakistan”, at the Alhamra Arts Council at Gadaffi Stadium. The documentary is one of the latest efforts of Child Empowerment Association of Pakistan (CEAP), an organisation working towards elimination of the menace through various awareness campaigns and workshops.
The documentary features the story of a sexual abuse survivor and how it impacted him at a very young age. Synchronously, it outlines the legal, societal and cultural loopholes that make it easy for the perpetrators to get away while victims continue to suffer, hence making sexual abuse prevalent in all those parts of our society that we deem safe and sacred for children.
Speaking about the documentary, CEAP founder Tehmina Shahid said she started her organisation in 2015 with the mission of helping people understand the phenomenon of child sexual abuse, its dynamics, the potential impact that it can have, help children who have been victimised and most importantly stop abuse in its tracks.
“We see a lot being done on child sexual abuse worldwide but most of it is rooted in anonymity, with the right information and right mindset child sexual abuse can be prevented,” she said.
Shahid said the organisation has been going to schools and colleges where they find the most relevant audience and conduct awareness workshops and panel discussions both for adults and school children.
“Apart from educating people about what sexual abuse really is, our special focus is debunking the myths that surround sexual abuse since something that is so rarely talked about would naturally have a lot of confusion around it,” Shahid said.
According to her, there was no comprehensive data on child sexual abuse in Pakistan, which is why we are still stuck at the basics, last time the comprehensive study was done in year 2,000 by PAHCHAAN (Protection And Help of Children Against Abuse and Neglect), a child right organisation, and since then no new data is available.
The screening also organised a panel discussion panel with various experts highlighting the social and legal aspects surrounding child sexual abuse. Psychotherapist Ayesha Iftikhar highlighted difficulties associated with disclosure as well as regressive taboos still attached with therapy in Pakistan. Advocate Ahmar Majeed highlighted the institutional, procedural and socio-cultural issues that were deeply embedded within Pakistani society at large and were responsible for under-reporting and low rate of prosecution and conviction of perpetrators.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2017.
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