By Aqsa Shahzadi - Legislative Intern SSDO
As per the statistics reported last year, it was found that everyday around 8 children were the victims of sexual abuse in at least four provinces of Pakistan. It is indeed a sad sight to know our children, our country’s next generation, is not safe with their own relatives. Yes, you read that right! There have been over hundreds of child abuse cases lately where children have been either; kidnapped by their relative, or worse, molested by their own family member. And it does not end there, in most cases, the children are buried alive.
Some would believe there is no motive behind these barbarians’ inhumane acts, however in some cases, one of the main reasons for these heinous crimes is pornography itself. In other words, videos of these acts being committed are made and then sold for money. Indeed, it’s a sick world we are living in, and this is where awareness comes into play. It was identified that most of the cases arose from the rural areas, having 65% of the cases, while the cases originating from urban areas accounted for 35%. Some of the reasons of having highest cases from the rural areas are such as illiteracy and lack of sex education. Such topics are so sensitive and even considered taboo in the rural areas, yet such barbaric acts continue to take place within the same territories.
One well-known case of such atrocious crime is of Zainab Ansari. This very case shook the whole country to its core. Zainab, a 7-year-old, lived in Kasur, when in 2018, she was abducted from her own hometown. Almost after 5 days since she disappeared, her body was discovered in a garbage site near Lahore. After running autopsy tests, it was found that Zainab was kidnapped, raped, and then murdered before getting dumped in a garbage disposal site. One can imagine the trauma Zainab’s family went through – something that will stick with them forever.
Speaking of trauma, given the rise in such cases, one thing that most people are forgetting is the trauma these children will go through for the rest of their lives. Considering how lightly people take mental health, it is of vital importance that people should step up and raise awareness of mental health. Even though the government of Pakistan did pass its first ever child abuse law; also known as the Zainab Alert Bill, however this wasn’t enough.
Recently, in 2021, cases of child abuse are still prevalent throughout the country. In fact, as per statistics, there is a rise in the number of child abuse cases; so what can parents/guardians do about their children? Well, for starters, they can take note of how their child’s relatives are behaving towards them – notice any unusual behavior from the relatives. Another step that could be taken is to prevent children from letting their minor children play in the streets without any trustworthy adult’s supervision.