Nation jolted: Rape of minors a rising trend

Published: April 29, 2014
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A positive change is that more victims report the crime but experts fear number of minors being raped is rising. PHOTO: FILE

A positive change is that more victims report the crime but experts fear number of minors being raped is rising. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI / ISLAMABAD: The sexual assault of five-year-old “S” who was then dumped outside a Lahore hospital jolted the nation. The story made headlines for several days. In her, each saw their own child. Much was written and promised, but some seven months later the rapists remain at large and the government continues to chase shadows.

In this particular case, there were some lessons to be learnt. The most shocking is that the rape of minors is a growing trend in the country. “The average age of the rape victim in Karachi, according to data collected, is now nine years,” discloses Shiraz Ahmed, who works for the Karachi-based NGO, War Against Rape (WAR). “Child-rape is definitely on the rise. Many more cases are now being reported, but we can safely estimate that these are only 5 per cent of the actual number of cases.”

Ahmed says that influential perpetrators or their allies intimidate or bribe victims and their families into silence. “And society encourages the issue to be brushed under the carpet,” he adds.

In Punjab alone, there were 2,576 cases reported, according to a report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) released recently.

The father of “S” continues to fight for justice.  “Due to weak laws and punishment, these beasts continue to destroy the lives of women. I demand action that would set an example,” says Shafqat Mahmud. So far Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s government has been helpless. Possibly this inaction encourages rapists.

Experts say that the more accessible a child is, the more at risk he or she is. Street children top the list. No official numbers are available regarding their exact number, but it is estimated that there are 1.5 million street children in Pakistan, according to the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC). To add to this, according to the HRCP’s 2013 report, 1,400 juveniles are in jail and the country has some 12 million child workers, half of them below 10. They all fall under the high risk category.

The role of police and the media

WAR’s Shiraz Ahmed says that on one level, more cases are being reported which shows a social change. At the same time he laments the fact that the trend of child rape is growing.

The media and the police also need to play a more positive role, he adds. The media has to be sensitized on how to handle such cases. “The media crosses lines. It shows the faces of the victims, their names and the images of the family,” laments Ahmed, concerned on issues of privacy and safety. “More sensitive reporting of such cases, especially of minors, is what will help in the long run.”

He also feels that the police need to be made more aware and more answerable. Sometimes corruption is the reason why they record complaints under sections that have loopholes.

Shiraz feels that the correct sections should be applied for the concerned crime.

Cycle of abuse 

The cycle is never ending. Sarah Jafry, counsellor at WAR, comments, “a sexually abused child may indulge in risky sexual behaviour, wandering from one intimate relationship to another, because the child sees this as a way of feeling valuable and approved. Most of this is unconsciously done.”

Once abused, most victims almost never recover. Dr Rizwan Taj, head of Psychiatry department at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) says that the younger the victim, the longer lasting the impact.  “Young victims lose trust and confidence they had in relationships.” The victim chooses isolation rather than trying to stabilize relationships with people.

Experts say that the government should arrange for free medical treatment and long-term counselling. This remains a dream for most, however. Many say that the government should wake up to what is becoming a crisis situation. So far, the government has only been sleeping, experts say.

Alarm: Rapid rise in child-rape

• 2,788 child sexual abuse cases were reported in 2012, as compared to 2,303 in 2011.

• On an average, eight children a day were abused during 2012.

• 71 per cent of minors 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

• 1,214 cases took place either at the acquaintances’ or the victims’ houses, according to the report.

Source: The annual “Cruel Numbers” report by NGO Sahil.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Dajjal
    Apr 29, 2014 - 11:29AM

    Nation Jolted?? Not quite, just like with everything else its Nation Indifferent.

    Recommend

  • citizen
    Apr 29, 2014 - 11:34AM

    This is horrifying indeed . As an expecting woman i am feeling so insecure about the world my child will be entering . May Allah keep all children in safety and away from these evils . Please be very watchful and protective of your kids. No one can be trusted.

    Recommend

  • Ali
    Apr 29, 2014 - 11:48AM

    Sexual Assault on an adult is a tragedy of unparalleled magnitude that can not be comprehended by people other than the victims and on a minor it is pure evil that sends shivers down the spine.
    May ALLAH almighty protect all families against this rising menace.

    Recommend

  • Rabia
    Apr 29, 2014 - 12:02PM

    @Dajjal: True! the headline is quite subjective to say! for us such jolts and tremors are not more than a 42 degree day like today, this too shall pass…

    Recommend

  • Apr 29, 2014 - 12:23PM

    Strict penalty is the only solution,Recommend

  • Savethechildren
    Apr 29, 2014 - 12:50PM

    Rape is the peak of sexual abuse. We need to educate our kids and take preventive measures. Education doesn’t mean to give them sex education. What you have to tell them, Every one is stranger for you except your family, Kids should not allowed to go alone with anyone except their family member. Keep your Maids away from your kids. Your neighbors, cousins, uncles, tutors, Molvis, Etc.

    Recommend

  • Apr 29, 2014 - 1:02PM

    There should be death penalty openly in city squares to stop these manace of rape trend. If government will not take strict action it will destroy the basic fabric of the society and country. No leniency on the rapers as they are curse on society

    Recommend

  • Apr 29, 2014 - 1:08PM

    @citizen:
    bur one cannot be over protective so the natural freedom of the kid will be sacrificed for safety reasons.

    Recommend

  • aami
    Apr 29, 2014 - 3:47PM

    disgusting nation

    Recommend

  • Hari Om
    Apr 29, 2014 - 4:14PM

    This article on child rapes serves as a confirmation of what a variety of politicians and (ex) Ministers in the UK such as Jack Straw, Damian Green and Anne Cryer have been saying, namely that there exists a problem of grooming of children for sex by Pakistani heritage men. The shocking frequency of child rapes in Pakistan behooves Pakistani’s to focus on resolving this problem rather than obsessing about rapes in India as demonstrated on the comment pages of ET.

    Recommend

  • FaiselH
    Apr 29, 2014 - 6:25PM

    Not a single “Islamic Political Party” has spoken against this most disgusting inhuman crime,
    otherwise wise their baton yielding lunatics are out on the streets against the slightest perceived threat to Islam.
    The recent show of solidarity with our Armed Forces should now direct their energies into having these criminals punished.
    And definitely the media should be barred from their unprofessional display of hysterics.
    Its time the Civil Society takes a firm stand against this most unforgivable crime, and pesters the Chief Justice for a Suo Moto action.
    If our legislators can show unprecedented solidarity for their personal perks, it is time they be made to enact laws with a little greater zeal against this crime.Recommend

  • Amir Malik
    Apr 29, 2014 - 10:32PM

    @aami:
    As a Pakistani, I agree with you 110%.

    The only option is the prosecute and punish the perpetrators mercilessly. Child abuse has to be put down across Pakistan and this issue needs to be spoken up about so people realize that cornering little kids in the kitchen, in the corner of a shop or in a school is not appropriate in any way and that kids should feel its absolutely normal to talk about any threat they feel to themselves from adults.

    Recommend

  • unbelievable
    Apr 29, 2014 - 11:19PM

    Here’s a “heads up” … forced marriage is considered rape by much of the World and Pakistan condemns marriage of minors.Recommend

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