Our children are not safe. Not in schools. Not in playgrounds. Not in madrassahs. Not even at home. According to a child rights NGO, more than eight cases of child sexual abuse were reported every day in the year 2020. What's alarming is that even these numbers are massively underreported. While the legislation to prevent child abuse and punish perpetrators does exist, most cases of abuse are hushed up by the families of the victims themselves due to social stigmas. More often than not, the perpetrator is someone close to the family.
Childhood sex abuse can have long-term damaging impacts on the victim's mental health. In addition to that, our society's collective behaviour towards victims of abuse makes things all the more complicated as well. We end up blaming and shaming the victim instead of caring for them. The Zainab Ansari case that occurred in January 2018 was a wake-up call for the entire country. However, children are still molested each day, and there seems to be no end to it.
We as a society need to tackle this issue proactively. Relevant authorities must ensure that the laws are not just made stricter but implemented as well. Investigation agencies should be provided specific training on how to handle cases related to child abuse. Sex education should be introduced in school curriculums, and children should be made aware of the concept of good touch and bad touch. Awareness campaigns should be run through the various media platforms. We need to do a better job of protecting the children in our country so that their childhood may be preserved.
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