On Feb 16th, the body of 8 year old Madiha was recovered in Saro Khel village of district Hangu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Medical reports confirmed she had been raped and tortured before being murdered. Police have taken a suspect, a cousin of the deceased girl, into custody.
Child Sexual Abuse a Human Rights Concern
The increasing number of incidents of child sexual abuse in KP is a serious human rights concern. Madiha’s rape and murder has prompted yet another wave of outrage, and yet again the public has taken to the streets to demand severe punishments for abusers. While child protection laws do exist, Madiha and all prior such minors brutally victimized by abusers are unfortunate examples of the inefficacy of these laws in curbing crimes against children.
In a majority of child sexual abuse cases, abusers are often relatives of the victims and are able to exploit their proximity to the parents or guardians to continue the abuse. Further, abusers usually escape arrest and subsequent punishment due to lacking investigation practices and rarely ever implemented laws.
Child Welfare Strategies and Legislation Lacking
Social worker Imran Takkar believes an adequate and responsive strategy is required to achieve any significant progress in curbing child sexual abuse.
“A Child Protection Commission was formed in 2011 under the KP Child Protection and Welfare Act of 2010, and if we need to ensure protection for vulnerable children, then it is important that these laws be implemented in letter and spirit,” Takkar stated.
A Responsibility of the Government
Pakistan is signatory to UNO’s 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals, and is therefore committed to establishing institutions for the promotion of child welfare, as well as to put a halt to child trafficking and violence.
Deputy Chief of the KP Child Protection Bureau, Ijaz Muhammad Khan, told voicepk.net that significant steps have been taken to strengthen such institutions and their work.
“The government has allocated a sufficient budget, and so far we have facilitated 30,404 child abuse cases. We have set up 1068 volunteer committees for our grassroots awareness campaigns,” he stated.
Until there is proper implementation of child protection laws and comprehensive legislation on child welfare, parents and guardians must understand the risks and take due measures to ensure protection for their children.