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January 22, 2018

Child abuse talk still a taboo in Pakistan


January 22, 2018

“I am a girl. My name is Zainab. My father’s name is Ameen. I am seven years old. I live in Kasur. I am student of grade one, and I like mangoes very much.”

This is the last writing of that innocent girl, which she penned as her introduction in her Urdu homework notebook as an ‘essay’ on her person. Then a cruel and apathetic savage pounced on these words and soaked them in blood. And today, every face has become a picture of helplessness; asking only one question: is it essential that every time a Zainab must sacrifice her honour and life to expose the apathy and cruelty of a savage?

The assault-cum-murder of innocent Zainab has shaken the conscience of the nation once again. Such incidents have ever been taking place all-over the world without any distinction of developed or developing and Muslim or non-Muslim countries.

Only two years back, child sex video scandal in Kasur made headlines in the national and international media, and then all went to a slumber of apathy once again. Now political point-scoring is going on over the Zainab tragedy. The social media is reverberating with an emotional syndrome, and the so-called intellectuals are suggesting various punishments for the culprit, who is yet to be arrested till filing of the report. In this backdrop, this report is being published.

22,528 children sexually assaulted in 71/2 years in Pakistan: During the past years, the number of child sexual abuse cases has gone up continuously. A study showed that during the past seven-and-a-half years, from 2010 to mid-2017, at least 22,528 cases of child sexual abuse were reported.

In 2010, 2,252 such incidents were reported; in 2011, the number went up to 2,303; in 2012, as many as 2,788 such cases were reported; in the next year, 2013, the number further went up to 3002; in 2014, a visible increase was seen with the total number of reported cases reaching 3,508; in 2015, the reported cases stood at 3,768; in 2016, 4,139 cases of child sexual abuse were reported; while in the first six months of year 2017, 768 incidents were reported.

However, it is a common belief that the number of child sexual abuse is much more than what is reported to the police or in the press. Mostly majority of such cases are not reported to the police due to the so-called ‘shame’ attached with the issue in our society.

According to year 2016 report, at least 11 children fell victim to sexual assault daily on an average in Pakistan. The total number of cases, involving sexual assault, kidnapping, going missing and forced child marriages, reported to the police stood at 4,139 in this year. The increase in the number of such cases was 10% compared with year 2015. The major crimes, committed against children, reported to the police, were 1,455 abductions, 502 rapes, sodomy 453, as many as 271 victims were gang-raped, cases of sexual assault involving more than one person stood at 268, while rape attempts reported were 362.

After sexual assault, 100 children were murdered. The total number of culprits was 1,765, while majority of them were either relatives or acquaintances of the victim children. The culprits included 798 persons whom the victims didn’t know earlier, 589 were acquaintances, 76 relatives, 64 neighbours, 44 maulvis, 37 teachers and 28 policemen.

In 2016, 76% cases of sexual abuse were reported from rural areas and remaining 24% were reported from city centres. As many as 2,676 cases were reported in Punjab, 987 in Sindh, 166 in Balochistan, 156 in Islamabad, 141 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, nine in Azad Kashmir and four in Gilgit-Baltistan.

In the first six months of 2017, the majority of child sexual assault cases were reported in Punjab. The total number of reported cases was 1,764 during this period: 62% of them were reported in Punjab, 28% in Sindh. The total number of cases registered in Balochistan was 58, KP 42, and Azad Kashmir, nine cases.

In 2016, Pakpattan with 169 and Islamabad with 156 cases remained on top of the list. Most sexual assault cases took place in villages.

All these facts and figures have been reported from a non-governmental organisation (NGO) ‘Sahil’, which has been profiling child sexual abuse since 1997. However, officially no system is in place to collect data about the inhuman treatment of children in the country.

India tops the list in child sexual abuse: Almost 19% of world children population, i.e. 375 million, live in India, and 275 million of them are victims of sexual abuse, placing the country on top of the list of world nations as far as child sexual abuse is concerned.

According to National Crime Record Bureau, a child is sexually assaulted every 15 minutes in India. In 2014, 89,423 cases of child abuse were reported in India, in 2015, the number jumped to 94,172, in 2016, further increase was witnessed with 106,958 reported cases of crimes against children. Out of these cases, 36,000 pertained to sexual assault in 2016.

In 2015, about 8,904 cases of child sexual abuse were reported and the crime committed against children included forcible sexual abuse, torture, child smuggling for sexual purposes, and children use in pornographic movies and pictures. The 2015 report said that in 95% cases of child sexual assault, the victims knew their tormentors.

One in every 20 kids of UK a victim of sexual abuse: In Britain, one in every 20 children falls victim to sexual abuse. Such children are mostly attracted through liquor and drugs initially; they are then sexually assaulted and their video clips are made. According to a report, in only two years, 450,000 children in Britain were sexually assaulted.

England’s Commissioner for Children disclosed that from 2012 and 2014, 450,000 children were sexually assaulted. An investigation was launched into child sexual abuse in 2014, which would be completed in five years with $27 million cost.

A child sex scandal originating from England’s northern village Rotherham also shook the entire UK.

A report was commissioned in the wake of revelations that at least 1,400 children were sexually exploited in Rotherham. The issue of child sex abuse in Rotherham first came to light in November 2010 when five men from the town’s Asian community were jailed for sexual offences against underage girls.

1.3m children sexually assaulted in US annually: In the USA, one in every four girls, and one in every six boys falls victim to sexual assault. At least 1.3 million children are sexually assaulted in the USA annually. There are 60 million children in America who had been abused sexually. According to an estimate, the attackers of 20 million children were their blood relations.

In 2010, 63,537 children were sexually abused in the USA, while the number was 150,000 in 1995. About 70-73% persons, who sexually abused children in the later stages of their lives, had themselves been a victim in their childhood.

Those falling victim to sexual torture are blood relations while 50% of child exploitation cases are not reported to the police.

90pc child labourer face sexual abuse in Iran: About 90% of child labourers in Iran have to face sexual harassment and abuse. According to Iranian newspaper Shahrvand, about 90% of 400 child labourers, interviewed in almost three months, stated that they were sexually harassed or abused. Social Work Organisation Secretary General said in Iran that 75% of the victim kids were Afghan, Pakistani and Bangladeshi refugee children while 25% were Iranians.

Every fourth child in Saudi Arabia is victim of sexual abuse: In Saudi Arabia, every fourth child faces sexual abuse. 49% of those falling victim to sexual abuse are under 14 years of age.

According to National Family Safety research report 2016, 80% of children in Saudi Arabia fall victim to physical or psychological torture, 13% sexual torture and 53% fall victim to stare.

15m young girls face sexual abuse across world every year: According to UNICEF report, released in November 2017, at least 15 million young girls have to face forcible sexual abuse across the world annually. These girls fall in the age group of 15-19 years. Young boys have also to face such a situation, though no data is available at international level in this regard.

UNICEF said in its 2014 report that over 120 million girls across glob had to face forcible sexual relationship or something like that.

According to an estimate, 120 million girls were tortured sexually in 2012. The report took stock of torture of children in 190 countries of the world. The report said that children remain a victim of torture in almost all countries no matter what religion, culture race, social and economic back they belong.

Researchers say torture begins at home, and at least one billion children face torture at the hands of their parents, or those assigned the task of their care. They also have to face corporal punishment in schools.

Some bitter realities at international level: In Asia, 4% of minor boys and 11% of minor girls are assaulted in very young age. In Europe, 5% of boys and 13% of girls are sexually assaulted in very young age. In the USA, 8% of boys and 20% of girls are harassed sexually.

Across the world, 19.7% girls and 7.9% boys face sexual exploitation in their childhood. South Africa is on top of the list in sexual torture of children and baby rape. One in every eight persons is AIDS patient, and 40,000 children are affected by HIV annually. Majority of children fall victim to sexual abuse by their acquaintances.

According to WHO report, 150 million girls and 73 million boys were sexually tortured across in world in 2002. In the industrial countries, 36% of women and 20% of men face sexual torture in their childhood. The report said that 1.8 million children are attached with pornography and flesh trade. Aslo, 1.2 million children are trafficked annually. The killing ratio of children in underdeveloped countries is almost double of those living in developed countries.

In Africa, 34.4%, Asia 23.9%, in America 10.1%, in Europe 9.2% children fall victim to sexual torture annually. Child pornography business is ever on the rise on internet, which registered 150% annual hike during the past year.

769 minor girls sexually assaulted in 2017: According to a report, 1,465 women were raped in Pakistan in 2017, and half of them (769) were minor girls. During the year, 447 gang-rape cases were reported in the press, and in 21 incidents, the culprits were well-known to their victims. Only 343 cases were registered and 169 cases were taken to courts. In five cases, close relatives were the culprits, in one incident the attacker was a teacher, and in two incidents neighbours were involved. Also, 177 cases, neighbours were found involved in crimes against women and girls. 118 men were also sexually assaulted by more than one persons.

Child abuse in churches: hundreds of priests dismissed: In America, a scandal of child sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests came to surface in 2002, exposing 4,400 priests who had abused 110,000 children from 1950 to 2002. In Australia too, child sexual abuse by priests jolted society and now government is paying the affected children compensation. Another scandal in which more than 20,000 children were sexually abused by 800 Roman Catholic workers in Netherlands in 1945 also came to surface.

In Germany also, the priests admitted that in various Catholic schools, children were abused in the decades of 1970, 1980 and 1990. These child abuse incidents took place in Berlin, Hamburg and other areas of Germany. Pope Francis had requested for apology and set up a committee to support the affectees. In the beginning of 2014, the Vatican told UNICEF that at that time Pope Benedict dismissed around 400 priests.

Child abuse incidents in Pakistani seminaries: US news agency: An American news agency prepared a research report on child abuse and exploitation in Pakistani seminaries. However, most incidents are not highlighted because of two major reasons; one is that religious scholars, preachers or seminary teachers are very influential and the second is that discussing sexual abuse is considered a forbidden tree.

Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousuf, however, denied the news about increasing incidents of child sexual abuse in seminaries. He said such discussion was aimed at defaming religion, religious scholars and seminaries. Black sheep are everywhere and such incidents may take place off and on. AP had prepared this report after going through police documents, after talking to victims, current and former relief organisations. The report referred such 100 cases that were registered against religious scholars.

Europe ahead of all in uploading obscene pictures/ videos of kids online: Europe leaves others behind in uploading obscene pictures and videos of children on Internet. Last year, a report said that Europe is becoming world centre in uploading pictures of child sexual abuse and exploitation on Internet. Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) issued this report. It said that in entire world 60% of such matter is found in Europe which is 19% more than earlier. In case of European countries Netherlands tops the list and 34,212 pages containing wrong material were found uploaded on Internet from Europe.

Committing child abuse is an incurable psychological disease which is called paedophilia in English. For the first time this term came to forefront in 19th century. This disease is linked to abnormal nervous system. The patient of this disease hesitates in having sexual relationship with any mature person; such person cannot live normal married life. Moreover, it is difficult for such person to have sexual relationship with a mature woman; he is attracted towards children. No cure for this disease has been found so far.

Types of sexual exploitation of children: Touching body parts: This type begins with unnecessary embracing the children; clinging; kissing and caressing. Parents need to keep their eyes open in this situation and they must be careful in case of frequent visits of relatives, children’s unnecessary interaction with domestic servants and family friends.

Pornography: In this type children are shown sexual pictures, videos and organs. In this situation, parents should keep an eye on their children when they use Internet at home and access to such sites need to be checked.

Unethical conversation: Children are trapped through vulgar conversation, pun, and jokes; such acts are done with children in solitude on Internet, social media.

Self-enjoyment: In this act children are forced to have sexual enjoyment. Such experience is horrible for innocent child but threats and greed keep the child silent and the victim child does not complain against the accused.

Sexual abuse: Targeting children through sexual abuse is the extreme situation. Mostly parents use to visit relatives or neighbours while leaving their children with servants or relatives; they must be careful because there are horrible results of such damned act and the criminals kill the affected children to conceal their sin.

Porno videos and pictures: Sometimes, the habitual criminals hurl threats at children and forcibly involve them in making obscene videos and pictures. The criminals also force their victims to bring other children with them for this act. These videos and pictures are uploaded on Internet. Kasur incident reported few years ago is also such an example.

Child prostitution: This is the worst form of sexual exploitation and children are kidnapped for this purpose.

What parents should do? Parents should be cautious and they should try to gain their trust and love. Children should be shown affection by their parents so that they do not need the attention of others. If they are neglected, someone else will become their sympathiser.

Parents should be alert to any sign of change on bodies of their children. They should reach to the bottom of injuries or bruises on their faces or bodies.

They should be aware about costly gifts to children including mobiles and seek explanation if they get a costly gift.

They should also notice if children stay out late or delay their return home.

Inform children about how to react when someone touches them. They should be informed to raise the alarm or run away in case of a touch. Do not leave a child alone with a servant, neighbour, or relative.

Take care if your child is extremely happy or worried after the arrival of a guest, especially if they are of opposite sex.

The children must be given confidence so that they could speak up without any fear of harm. The children should be medically tested and examined by a psychiatrist.

Discussion on child abuse still a taboo in Pakistan: Many countries have introduced strict laws and punishment for child abuse. They included the issue in syllabus and trained children against it. They are trained to call emergency helpline. Parents are informed through TV how to save their children from abuse. Children activities on the Internet are monitored. Many countries have blocked sexual content.

A Britain agency closes down indecent sites. Britain, Canada and other countries have published booklets to educate children about the issue. Save The Children and other such organizations are working there.

India has also taken practical steps to protect children despite being a conservative society. Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi visited 22 sates to save children from abuse. Indian actor Amir Khan started a programme on the issue in 2012. It became popular among people. He taught children how to save themselves from beasts. His video has become viral after the Kasur incident.

However, it is still a taboo to discus the issue in Pakistan. Nobody can speak explicitly on TV for fear of decrees. Parents cannot talk to children on the issue because of shame and in this way we a pushing our children into darkness.

Why murder after abuse?: In most of cases, children’s relatives, friends, neighbours and drear-ones are their tormentors. They put pressure on children to keep quite after abuse. According to a report, a relative or acquaintance is involved in child abuse in 80% of cases. Many children are abducted and killed after rape because the abuser fears for arrest after being identified.

Kind behaviour of the Prophet (PBUH) with children: Islam provided a place to children, which is available to other people of society. Islam provides rights to children even before their birth. The rights include life, inheritance, will, trust and maintenance. No other system provides children such comprehensive rights.

Every aspect of the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is accomplished and complete. If we see the treatment of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) with children, we find no one as polite and merciful as Holy Prophet (PBUH) is with children. He said those who do not take pity on young people and respect the elders are not among us. Similarly, he said those who are deprived of politeness, actually they are deprived of all blessings.

Holy Prophet (PBUH) protected the rights of girls, gave them education and emphasised spending on betterment and reformation of girls. So, he said: “One who brings up two girls till their adulthood, he and I will be together on the Day of Judgment.”

Children’s rights, International agreements-abiding country: In November 1989, the UN General Assembly reached an international children agreement. In September 2, 1990, the agreement came into being. This agreement consists of 54 clauses. Among these clauses, 41 clauses are pertaining to children. One-hundred-and-ninety countries have signed this agreement. Pakistan too endorsed the agreement in December 12, 1990.

According the first article of the agreement, a boy and a girl under the age of 18 should be considered a child. The second article of the agreement says a child will not be discriminated for his colour, race, creed, religion, language, country, nationality, tribe or any disability. The 19th article of the agreement says a government shall take measures to protect children from physical, mental, sexual punishment, mistreatment and non-attendance.

The 34th article of the agreement says a child will be protected from any mistreatment, abuse and disgrace and every child will be kept away from any prohibited business.

The article 35th of the agreement says a government along with other countries will establish a system to eliminate child trafficking and business of abducting children.

The 37th article of the agreement says children will be kept safe from cruel treatment, punishment, severe punishments, including death and life term. In June 11, 2011, Pakistan endorsed International Optional Protocol against sale of children, use of children for sex and child phonographic, and after the endorsement of the protocol Pakistan is now bound to take measures to stop such crime against children.

What does Pak law say about child abuse?: According to Pakistan Penal Code, criminals involved in child sexual abuse are given punishment of minimum two-year jail and maximum life term by courts.

In 2016, for the first time in the history of Pakistan, parliament made a law against child sexual assault, making porn films of children, and their trafficking. Under this law, child abuse punishment has been increased from seven years to 10 years in jail.

According to Section 40 of the Act 2004 of Punjab, child abuse will bear three-year jail and Rs 50,000 fine whereas there is no fixation of punishment of child pornographic. Due to this reason, in Kasur videos scandal case anti-terrorism Act 1997 clauses had to be included.

According to KP Act 2010, Section 48, child pornographic bears minimum threes year jail and maximum seven year jail along with fine from Rs 200,000 to 700000 whereas, according to Section 50 of the Act, showing porn movies to children or trying to involve them in sex activities will have seven years jail and heavy fine.

In Kasur video scandal, a case the clauses of Pakistan Penal Code PPC 376 and 277 had to be included because there was no fixation of punishment or law to deal with such crime.

Zainab tragedy in German media: According to the German media analysis, politicians found it as an opportunity of point-scoring against each other after the murder of minor girl Zainab. Dr Tahirul Qadri, who led her funeral prayers, at once gave reference of Model Town tragedy, and tried to draw people’s attention to his political agenda. Imran Khan attacked Shahbaz Sharif, saying Shahbaz met the parents of Zainab early in the morning just to avoid people’s criticism of his negligence. Former Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari and other PPP leaders lashed out at the Punjab government and held it responsible for crimes against children in Punjab. Activists of Khadim Rizvi of Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasoolullah reached Kasur and delivered fiery speeches and added fuel to the fire.

Social media: Social media is viewed as the head-fountain of fake news all-over the world. A report in British news media said, people of ‘Socialistan’ are in fix. They don’t know what to do to focus on third marriage of Imran Khan or condemn Kasur incident. These people of ‘Socialistan’ are so angry that they have sent lakhs of tweets of condemnation and demands for hanging the culprits, but these people hardly attend any candle-lit or demonstrations taken out in Karachi and Islamabad against the Kasur incident.

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