Child abuse – ‘Cruel numbers’ speak for children

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LAHORE – Sahil’s data of child abuse and other crimes in 2010 reveals that a total of 2,252 children were sexually abused throughout Pakistan. This means that about seven children are being sexually abused every day.
Excluding abduction cases from the total reveals that four children fell prey to child sexual abuse every day in 2010. The harsh reality is that these figures are based on reported incidents so the actual number might be much larger. The three major crime categories that Sahil has identified shows that there were 508 cases of rape/sodomy, 336 cases of gang-rape/ sodomy and 214 cases of attempt of rape/sodomy.
Sahil is an organization dealing with child abuse and torture, monitors 66 newspapers daily throughout Pakistan to compile statistics on child sexual abuse cases. Those cases which involve victims of 18 years or below of both boys and girls are recorded to compile into a report called “Cruel Numbers”. Sex aggregate follows trends of the previous years where both sexes are assaulted. However mostly girls become victims of sexual abuse. The data shows that 73% girls and 27% boys were abused sexually.
The data also shows that a total of 4543 abusers were involved in abusing 2252 children. The largest group identified was that of acquaintances, the second largest group being strangers followed by perpetrators within the family. Similar to the results of previous years, the highest percentage of vulnerable age group among girls was 11- 18 years. Among boys the age bracket of 6 – 15 years was the most vulnerable.
The data shows sexual abuse can occur anywhere, at any time, children are vulnerable everywhere. Statistics gathered by Sahil show 36 % cases of sexual assault took place within four walls where as 14 % cases took place in an open area. Time period of abuse shows that more than half of the children experienced one time abuse. However, in 21% of the cases children were abused for more than a day.
Province – wise division shows that 76% cases of abuse were reported from Punjab, followed by Sindh, the Federal Capital Islamabad. Very few cases were reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir. The Urban-Rural divide shows that almost 67% of cases were reported from rural areas where as 33% cases were reported from urban areas. Cases registered with the police were 73% of the reported cases.
Recording of court convictions show that in the year 2009- 2010 maximum number of convictions were given within a year of the case registration. Decisions on a total of 38 cases have been given in 2010.
Recommendations: Sahil recommended in their presentation that after the 18th Constitutional Amendment there is dire need to focus on Child Protection Issues at Provincial Level. There is also a need to have support systems should be established for intervention and rehabilitation, in the province.
Sahil members said that a course must be included in primary education, to equip child with the knowledge of body safety. Youth should be encouraged and should be given responsibilities against the child sexual abuse. Local child protection centers must be established within rural/remote areas should be made more safe and secure by giving civic amenities.
Media should give priority in highlighting the reporting of the child sexual abuse cases. Ensure that adults and communities are provided with information to be able to recognize the warning signs of sexual abuse.

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