LAHORE: Punjab remained in the unenviable position of being the province with the most child abuse cases from January to June 2017. As many as 1,764 children were sexually abused in Pakistan during the period. This number was compiled as a part of the yearly “cruel number” report by Sahil- an organisation which is working against Child Sexual Abuse in Pakistan.
The organisation has been publishing ‘Cruel Number' reports for the last 17 years, based on data collected through online monitoring and printed newspapers, direct cases received at Sahil offices for free legal aid and cases shared by other organisations working on CSA.
The data compiled from January to June 2017 of Cruel Number revealed that 1,067 girls and 697 boys were sexually exploited. However, a decrease of 17% in numbers in incidents was observed when compared to January-June 2016. Moreover, 59 cases of child marriages and 14 cases of vani were reported during that time.
As many as 14 cases of child abuse in madrassas were reported. Similarly, hospitals, hotels, cars, clinics, colleges, factories, jails, police stations, marriage halls and graveyards were reported as places of child abuse occurrences. The province-wise data showed 1,089 cases from Punjab, 490 cases from Sindh, 76 violations from Baluchistan, 42 from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, nine from Azad Kashmir and 58 cases were reported in the federal capital.
According to the report, 1,306 incidents were reported to the police, while 23 remained unreported. As many as 47 cases were not registered by the police despite being reported. Furthermore, 388 cases were reported in newspapers with incomplete information.
The report revealed that 58 children were sexually abused in Lahore in the six month period in 2017.
Moreover, the report recommended the government to establish a Child Safety Cell in every district of Punjab. It called out for the need of an effective awareness campaign for the protection of children, introduction of new legislation where necessary and implementation of enforced enactments. According to Anser Sajid Bhatti, who shared the report data with The Express Tribune, “There is a need for comprehensive rehabilitation and support system for the victims of abuse.”
Bhatti said that relevant messages against child abuse protection and prevention should be included in the curriculum. “National Plan of Action against child sexual abuse and exploitation should also be implemented in letter spirit,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2017.
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