A new research report by an NGO called Sahil revealed that on average, 12 children are subjected to sexual abuse in Pakistan every single day. In the first six months of 2022 alone, we recorded a horrifying number of 2211 cases. But perhaps an even more depressing reality is that there are probably countless others instances that were unreported and therefore, do not exist on record. Child abuse is a crime that feeds on the vulnerability and innocence of children and for us to be reporting cases with such frequency is absolutely unacceptable.

The report titled ‘Sahil’s Six Months Cruel Numbers Report’ exposed that crimes of sexual abuse, abduction, missing children, child marriages and rape primarily committed by acquaintances were found to be the most reported, painting a disturbing picture of the situation. What is worse is that most victims were between the ages of 6 to 15. A report like this should ring alarm bells across the country but it seems as though the gravity of the situation is not being realised. We have poor protective laws, policies and procedures in place that often either neglect the victims, refuse to investigate or push the problem under the rug rather than dealing with it head on. The government, and many of its executive branches, have a duty to protect those who cannot protect themselves and children form a huge portion of this segment. Sheltering them from such barbaric and gross violations is a responsibility that must be fulfilled, and rather extensively so.

There exists another problem when it comes to child abuse and that revolves around the society’s mentality. Often, families are quick to dismiss a child when they claim they are being abused, especially if the abuser is an acquaintance. Even in instances where the child is believed, certain families chose to dismiss the issue and fail to report it because of several taboos associated with it. Such behaviors are only likely to change through awareness that focuses on how to protect children, noticing signs that your child has been abused, holding people accountable for their crimes and neutralising any ill-informed perceptions about it.