A disconcerting revelation has emerged from a report released by Sahil, a prominent non-profit organization championing the rights and safety of children in Pakistan. This report, published on Thursday, divulges a deeply distressing statistic: an average of twelve children fell prey to sexual abuse every day in Pakistan during the first half of 2023. Sahil, a steadfast advocate against child abuse since its establishment in 1996, has underscored the vital significance of the data, aimed at shedding light on the dire issue of child sexual abuse (CSA) dynamics within Pakistan.
Of paramount significance, these harrowing figures are gleaned from media reports, suggesting the potential for the actual numbers to be significantly higher. The gravity of the situation is further compounded by Sahil’s assertion that in 2022, a total of 4,253 cases of child abuse were reported for the entire year, of which a distressing fifty percent comprised sexual abuse cases.
In this disheartening trajectory, the report indicates that the aggregate number of abuse victims for 2023, encompassing the January to June period, soared to 2,227. Comparatively, this represents an escalation from the corresponding period of the previous year, where 2,211 cases were reported. Poignantly, the statistics unveiled an alarming gender distribution, with over half (54 percent) of the victims being girls. The number of abused boys escalated to 1,020, whereas the count for girls remained stagnant at 1,207, akin to the previous year.
In a disheartening revelation, the report delves into the disquieting revelation that more boys (593) experienced abuse than girls (457) within the critical age bracket of 6 to 15 years. The report aptly decries that this age group continues to be the most susceptible demographic, with a staggering 47 percent of the total cases encompassing this pivotal age span. The vexing statistics portray 593 male victims juxtaposed with 457 female victims within this age group.
Conspicuously, the report elucidates the dominant categories of abuse, divulging that abduction incidents persist as the most prevalent crime, constituting 44 percent of the total cases. Tragically, the gamut includes a spectrum of offenses, with 13 percent pertaining to sodomy, 10 percent to rape, and 9 percent being reported as cases of missing children. The document also sheds light on the disconcerting proliferation of pornographic cases, totaling 53, with the Federal Investigation Agency monitoring activities within the dark web.
Highlighting another disheartening facet, the report reveals that of the 53 reported cases of CSA and pornography within the initial half of 2023, a staggering 72 percent of the victims were boys, while the remaining 28 percent were girls.
Evidently, the disturbing data also exposes a shocking trend in terms of abusers’ relationships to the victims. An alarming total of 2,531 abusers were identified to have victimized children during the first six months of 2023, a considerable portion of whom were either related to or known by the victims or their families. Acquaintances accounted for 912 cases, juxtaposed with 498 cases involving strangers. Additionally, a harrowing revelation emerges, indicating that 16 percent of the reported cases witnessed a malevolent combination of both strangers and acquaintances committing these heinous acts.
While the locales of these disturbing incidents vary, the report unveils a concerning pattern. A staggering 31 percent of the cases occurred on the streets, while 11 percent transpired at the victim’s residence. Meanwhile, 4 percent of the cases transpired in open fields, while 2 percent were reported as transpiring within places of worship and educational institutions.
The sobering statistics also reflect the alarming fact that a mere 25 cases were not registered by the police, while an overwhelming 88 percent were duly registered. Furthermore, the report sheds light on the urban-rural divide, with 55 percent of the cases hailing from urban areas and the remaining 45 percent emanating from rural regions. A regional analysis underscores that Punjab bore the highest burden, accounting for 74 percent of the reported cases, followed by 14 percent in Sindh, 7 percent in Islamabad, and 3 percent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with the residual 2 percent emanating from Balochistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Gilgit Baltistan.
Furthermore, the report delves into a disheartening category encompassing accidents and violence, revealing an alarming total of 963 such cases reported against children. Of this grim tally, 760 victims tragically lost their lives, encompassing drowning, murder, accidents, and even suicide.
Sindh emerges as a hotbed for these grievous incidents, with a staggering 483 cases reported, closely followed by Punjab with 233 cases.
In its comprehensive revelation of these alarming trends, the Sahil report underscores a somber reality that demands urgent attention, reform, and collective action to safeguard the innocence and future of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.