April 8th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
More than 8 children were abused daily on average in the year 2020, according to data compiled by Sahil on child sexual abuse cases reported in newspapers across the country.
The total number of reported child abuse cases across the country jumped to 2,960 in 2020 from 2486 cases in 2019,showing an increase of four percent.
The report states that the cases of child sexual abuse were reported from all four provinces including Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), and Gilgit Baltistan (GB), adding that the data was compiled from cases reported in 84 newspapers across the country.
The report presents data· on violence against children (up to 18 years) in cases of sexual abuse, abduction/kidnapping, missing children, and child marriages.
80 children murdered after abuse
According to the report, the data shows that 80 children were murdered after sexual abuse in 2020 out of the total reported cases of 2,960. The number of murder cases after sexual abuse was 70 in 2019.
The reason for abusers to kill the victims could be to escape accountability as the child will not be a witness to the crime and cannot expose their identity, the report states.
89 cases involved pornography
In 2020 a total of 89 out of 2960 cases were reported of child sexual abuse that involved pornography in the shape of abusers making videos of the crime.
In comparison to last year’s data, a signiﬁcant increase can be seen in the cases of abduction-and-sodomy-murder from 7 cases in 2019 to 13 cases in 2020.
The data reveals that 66 victims were boys, and 23 of the victims were girls. The data shows that in 37 cases of gang sodomy reported in the year, the abusers had made videos of the victims. While there were 8 cases of rape and pornography in the same period.
Children of all ages vulnerable
The report states that child sexual abuse victims are children of all ages. The research shows that like previous years, this year also children in the age bracket of 6 to 15 years were the most vulnerable.
In the age bracket below 5 years, and from 6 to 15 years, boys are more vulnerable to abuse than girls. In comparison to last year’s data, this year cases of boys in the age bracket below 5 years has increased by 97 cases as compared to the 77 cases in the year 2019.
Who are the abusers?
The report states most of the perpetrators of child sexual abuse are acquaintances, service providers, or family members like in the previous years.
According to the report, the reasons behind this is that the perpetrators have easy access to the victim; the child trusts the perpetrator, and may be in a loving relationship with the person. Perpetrators may create time and space to groom children sexually, to gain access to the children, to prevent disclosure, and to prevent caregivers from believing the children if they disclose sexual abuse. This group of perpetrators may control the children with gifts, secrecy, bribery, or threats, and not only force, the report adds.
Places of abuse
The report states that child sexual abuse can occur in a variety of settings, including acquaintance’s place, victim’s home, school, madrasas, shop, or workplace.
As in previous years, the acquaintance’s place continues to be on the top of the list, and the victim’s place comes in second. In open spaces, streets and open fields are the most reported places where children are exploited.
Rawalpindi and Kasur most prone districts
According to the data from the report, Rawalpindi and Kasur topped the list of the most prone 10 districts reporting child sexual abuse in the country in 2020.
Like in previous years, this year also Rawalpindi was on the top with 295 cases. Kasur district is in second position while Islamabad falls to the sixth position from second position last year.
The report states that out of the total number of 2960 cases more than 44% of cases were reported from 10 districts in the country. Out of these 10 districts, 8 districts were from Punjab, and 2 districts are reported from Sindh province.
The report found that sexual abuse cases followed previous years’ pattern in terms of where the crime occurred. The highest number of cases were reported from Punjab province which accounted for 58% of reported cases in 2020. It is followed by Sindh where 29% cases took place, 7% cases from the KP, 3% cases from the Islamabad Capital territory, whereas 53 cases were reported from Balochistan, 18 cases from Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK), and 4 cases were reported from Gilgit Baltistan (GB) as well.
In comparison to last year’s data, cases from ICT, Balochistan, AJK, and GB have decreased in the year 2020 however cases from Punjab province have increased.
345 children missing
In 2020, 345 cases of missing children were reported. In 86% of the cases, boys and in 14% cases girls went missing.
Missing children are most likely to be victims of sexual abuse, commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, and beggary. The reports of missing children were 15% less, compared to 2019 statistics of 405 cases.
Out of the total 345 reported cases of missing children, more than half (56%) of the cases were reported from Sindh province. This year showed a significant increase in the number of reported cases of missing children from KP province. In comparison to the last years’ 35 cases, this year 70 such cases were reported.
119 cases of child marriages
The report reveals that reported the number of cases of child marriages has increased by 14% from 104 cases in 2019 to 119 cases in 2020. Out of the total 119 cases of reported child marriages, 76 cases were from Sindh. While the cases in Punjab have decreased from 18 to 16 cases in a span of one year.
From the previous year, . In all the age groups, cases of child marriages involving girls have increased while that of boys have decreased in the year 2020. Out of the total 119 reported cases of child marriages, police registered 85% of the cases.
In the conclusion, the Sahil report listed proposed recommendations for implementation of child protection laws to reduce cases of child sexual abuse in the country.
The recommendations included establishment of child-friendly courts, separate police desk for registration of FIRs, and raising awareness among people, parents and the media about prevention of child sexual abuse.