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Editorial

September 2, 2018
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Vulnerable to abuse

Editorial

September 2, 2018

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Pakistan needs to protect its children better. A mere look at daily news reports is alarming. According to a report by Sahil, an NGO working on protecting children against violence, 12 child sexual abuse cases are reported in media every day. A total of 2,322 child sexual abuse cases were reported in newspapers in the first six months of 2018. This is 25 percent higher than last year. The victims are evenly divided in terms of gender. Children in the age bracket of six to fifteen are more vulnerable. While the increase in numbers could simply be a matter of greater attention on the subject from the media after the Kasur child abuse case and the Zainab case, the numbers themselves are alarming. The increase in reporting is perhaps due to the fact that parents feel it is more important to report such cases in the hope of justice and to prevent more children from suffering. The justice system has failed to deliver on the issue. Out of 141 child rape cases in Lahore alone, there have been no convictions.

Minors continue to fall victim to predators who operate freely and without remorse. Acting against child abuse remains a low priority for law-enforcement authorities. Police are known to want to avoid registering more child abuse cases to keep the eyes of the media away. There is a proposal for a special cell in the police to deal with the matter, which could be a good start, but the entire police force will need to be trained and told to make the issue a priority. One recent case is that of Zainab’s killer Imran Ali, who continued his murder spree against young girls despite the fact that the police had received a number of complaints against him. It is scary to think of the numbers of lives that are affected by predators in our midst. Apart from the police system, it is also society that works to suppress reporting of such incidents. Parents remain unwilling to talk about their child being abused, especially when this is done by close relatives. Many of these children continue to suffer trauma throughout their adult lives. This is why it is important to fight this menace as a society. Shifts in public attitudes will be critical to ensuring that no more children fall prey to abuse.

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