‘Child sexual abuse cases have increased in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: During the first six months of 2016, 2,127 incidents of child sexual abuse were reported from across the country, according to data collected from newspapers by the non-governmental organisation Sahil.

According to a report released on Friday, such incidents have increased by 36pc from the same time last year, when 1,565 cases of child sex abuse were reported.

Sahil Programme Officer Media Mumtaz Gohar told Dawn that 86 newspapers from three categories – national, regional and local – and in three languages – English, Urdu and Sindhi – were monitored in order to collect data on violence against children.

“According to the data collected, most of the cases were reported from Punjab, followed by Sindh. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan remained third and fourth on the list,” he said.

He said that this could also be because many cases were not reported from KP and Balochistan, either because of the tribal system or because journalists in these provinces were reluctant to report on such incidents due to security concerns.

Mr Gohar added that the actual number of child sexual abuse is estimated to be double that reported in the media, as a large number of people do not want them reported.

According to the report, more boys than girls in the age groups 0-5 years and 11-15 years were sexually abused between January and June this year, compared to the same time last year.

However, more girls were abused than boys in the 16-18 year age group, and in 38pc of the cases reported in newspapers the victims’ ages were not mentioned.

Compared to this time last year, cases of gang rape have increased by 71pc, attempted rape by 61pc, ‘sodomy’ by 46pc and rape by 20pc. During the first six months of this year, 97 cases of child marriages have been reported when there were 34 such cases between January and June 2015. Of the cases reported, 946 assault cases were committed by acquaintances and 413 by strangers.

The location of the abuse was not mentioned in 1,079 cases while 318 cases happened at the victim’s home, 276 at an acquaintances’ home, 164 in the fields, 115 in the street, 38 in wooded areas, 30 in havelis, 22 in seminaries, 18 in shops, 16 in schools and 51 in other places including workplaces, marriage halls, hotels and shrines.

The report says that in the first six months of this year, 1,584 cases were registered with the police, and the status of 450 was not mentioned in the newspapers. The police refused to register cases in 82 incidents. Most of the cases were reported from the rural areas, with just 20pc cases being reported in urban parts of the country.

Ref: http://www.dawn.com/news/1278753

Pakistan has been ranked as the 8th most lawless country in the world by World Justice Project

1Rule of law is believed to be one of the core tenets of a civilised society. It does not solely pertain to those with the power and means to obtain justice for themselves but also to the marginalised who are pushed to the brink of society, ignored and unheard. When it comes to judging the quality of life in a country, it is quite obvious that reliance on law enforcement for protection and on courts for a fair hearing of grievances must be considered. It is based on this understanding that the World Justice Project issues its yearly Rule of Law index which is based on the survey responses of citizens in countries all around the world and their ratings of their country on various indicators. The index broadly measures 113 countries on such aspects as the absence of corruption, civil and criminal justice and access to fundamental rights. In its report released this year, the index has revealed data that while not surprising, should be a cause for concern and a call to action.

Pakistan has been ranked as the 8th most lawless country in the world in this index which has placed a statistical value on the untold human misery that has resulted for decades due to rampant corruption, sluggish court procedures, lack of legislation and improper use of force by law enforcement. For the less privileged, a category which includes the poor, the physically or mentally handicapped, religious and ethnic minorities, women and children this lawlessness has dire consequences. It is only recently that enough awareness has been built up for bills against sexual harassment and child marriages to be passed. There are many who languish in jails waiting for their day in court and an untold number who have decided to not to strive for justice because the procedure is often more arduous than the crime itself. While landmark pieces of legislation are an important step, they are not enough to overturn the culture of denying justice though for the present little more seems to be on the cards to improve this situation.

 Ref : Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2016.