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ISLAMABAD: Over nine children are subjected to sexual violence nationwide, read a report compiled by NGO Sahil has revealed.
Released on Wednesday, Cruel Numbers-2017 paints a mind-boggling portrait of the phenomenon. Statistics presented in the document showed prevalence of child sexual abuse continued to persist, repudiating lofty government claims of better child protection standards nationwide.
Collating cases reported across 91 newspapers, the report revealed 3,445 children had been subjected to sexual violence across the nation in 2017, last year. This represents an annual decrease of 694 cases, the report read.
The number of murders following child abduction and sexual abuse took an upward flight over the year, as per the report. Reported incidence recorded an over 100% rise, increasing from seven in 2016 to 15 in 2017, the document revealed.
Girls in particular constituted an overwhelming majority of child sexual abuse victims at 60%. The document also revealed that children between the 6-10 and 11-15 years of age were most vulnerable to sexual abuse.
Presenting a breakdown of crime against children, the study revealed incidence of abduction stood highest at 1039. Missing children at 517, rape at 467, sodomy at 366, attempted rape at 206, gang sodomy at 180, gang rape at 158 and early marriage at 109 followed.
The report went on to emphasize how pressing the incidence of murder following sexual abuse had become over 2016-17. 109 cases of murder after sexual abuse were reported in 2017. The corresponding number for 2016 stood at 100, the report read.
Over 2017, 1,746 cases of child sexual abuse alone (excluding cases of abduction, child marriage and missing children) were reported, the document stated.
1,229 cases of abduction were reported across newspapers in 2017. Of these, 81% victims were girls, the report added.
5,284 individuals suspected of being involved in child sexual abuse were identified over the year. The set includes numbers on gangs involved in all 3,445 cases barring 143 instances of child marriage.
The highest incidence of child sexual abuse was recorded across the Punjab at 2,168. Sindh, Balochistan, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) followed at 933, 139, 112, 78, 12, 3 respectively.
Of reported cases, 76% transpired across rural areas.
Nearly 150 cases of child marriage were reported over 2017. Of them, 16 involved boys and 127 girls. The highest incidence of early marriage was reported in Sindh at 90. Punjab, GB and AJK followed with 46, 5 and 2 respectively.
A little over 2,500 cases of child sexual abuse were registered with police. The department refused to register another 99 cases. While 44 stand unregistered, status of 797 others has not been reported.
Lack of government data
A senior human rights ministry official told The Express Tribune there was a paucity of comprehensive data on child sexual abuse. “We only receive provincial data on request. Barring this, we lack a mechanism for collecting nationwide data,” he said.
The bureaucrat said most in Pakistan employed pertinent data shared by local and international NGOs operating in the nation. Expressing anguish over the gravity of the situation, the official said the need for a dedicated child rights ministry had become pressing.