Nearly 3,000 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in the country last year, an increase of 21 per cent compared to 2011, according to a study conducted by a non-governmental organisation.
Sahil, a non-government orgnisation campaigning against child sexual abuse, shared the findings of its annual “Cruel Numbers” report at the “Child Friendly Newspaper Award & Best Volunteer Award 2012” ceremony on Wednesday. The report compiled child sexual abuse statistics from news stories that appeared in 86 national, regional and local newspapers.
According to the report, 2,788 child sexual abuse cases were reported in the newspapers last year, compared to 2,303 in 2011. On average, eight children a day were abused during 2012. The data shows that 71 per cent of the children who suffered abuse were girls. The age group most vulnerable to sexual abuse among girls and boys was 11 to 15 years.
Some 5,689 abusers were involved in nearly 3,000 abuse cases, out of which 47 per cent were acquaintances and 1,214 cases took place either at the acquaintances’ or the victims’ houses, according to the report.
Anchorperson Talat Hussain, who was guest of honour at the ceremony, said there had been no significant attempt by the mainstream media to prioritise the issue of child rights. “Social transformation comes from within,” he added. “We need to develop communication modules which better integrate research done by organisations such as Sahil and project it at the national level.”
Chief Guest Lars Gunnar-Wigemark, ambassador of the European Union in Pakistan, said capacity building to prevent child sexual abuse must start with family. “Starting at the family, the need to fully respect children must be ensured,” Wigemark said. “The overall level of violence in the Pakistani society must be brought down to provide protection to vulnerable segments such as children.”
Earlier, Dr Manizeh Bano, executive director of Sahil, also shared the results of her research on awareness about child sexual abuse among lawyers. She said 34 per cent of the 221 lawyers who participated in the study did not know who was a child as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Nearly half the lawyers did not know there were eight forms of sexual abuse. She suggested specifying a time period for the conclusion of trials in child sexual abuse cases.
The Express Tribune won an award for best coverage of child protection and child rights issues in the national category. Daily Insaf, Lahore, and Daily Subh, Hyderabad, won the award for the regional and local categories.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2013.