It is no secret that sexual predators and pedophiles lurk among us, constantly waiting for an opportunity to prey on the weak and vulnerable. But, so alarming is the number of cases of child abuse being reported from across the country, that it should prompt authorities to take immediate action. Unfortunately, the issue largely remained ignored among high officials.
A recent research published by Sahil, an NGO, paints a grim and dreadful situation of child abuse in Pakistan, claiming that a total of 2,211 cases of child abuse were reported in just the first six months of 2022. These acts have become so pervasive that it is not just a social evil but more of a collective psychological phenomenon of asserting power and dominance — contrary to the general belief that it is about achieving pleasure.
The protection given to children by the state is deplorable. They are neither able to protect our children, nor can they provide services for rehabilitation after tragic incidents. Majority of child protection units across all four provinces either remain non-functional, are in a dilapidated state, or have little to no security. In some instances, children sent there for protection have been subjected to sexual abuse. It has even become difficult to protect children from family members as these predators lurk in every corner.
Sexuality and the human body must no longer remain a taboo subject. It is pertinent that children be given proper knowledge on the matter, including protective education about good and bad touch. On the other hand, perpetrators must be punished severely and subjected to psychological evaluation to ascertain any recurring underlying issue. To protect children from such violations, the state must build a robust mechanism, operating in all four provinces, whereby cases are actively identified, perpetrators brought to justice, and victims given psychological treatment and counselling.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2022.
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