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Pakistan: 260 cases of child sexual abuse

Publish Date: 01 Jun 2004

Source: Press Release
Issued by: Ms. Amina Mazhar,Madadgaar 

260 Reported Cases of Child Sexual Abuse in Pakistan During First Five Months of 2004

Child sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation of children are crimes against some of the most vulnerable members of society. Although the exact magnitude of the heinous crimes in Pakistan is difficult to gauge, their severity and existence are common and widespread across the country.

Reported cases merely represent a fraction of the actual offences and Madadgaar lamentably reports that 260 cases of child sexual abuse have already occurred in the first five months of 2004. The sheer enormity and complexity of the sexual abuse crimes make them difficult to effectively prevent, monitor and punish. Furthermore, the secrecy and silence surrounding the commission of these crimes are based on a social discomfort in openly addressing such issues. Child survivors of abuse and their families are often reluctant to reveal the acts due to cultural, religious or social constraints and values. The reluctance to come forth is compounded by a lack of trust in the law enforcement agencies and general dissatisfaction with the legal system. Improper handling of the cases in courts merely adds to the psychological trauma of victimized sexual abuse survivors and their families.

In 2001 Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA), collaborated with UNICEF to establish Madadgaar, Pakistan's first Helpline and Protection Service for Women and Children. A documentation unit of the project monitors 25 Pakistani newspapers on a daily basis, collecting resource information on key human rights issues and compiling statistics on major human rights violations across the country. The following figures have been generated by the Madadgaar database cell and indicate just how pervasive the menace of child sexual abuse is across Pakistan:

 Of the 260 total reported child sexual abuse cases, 47 occurred in January, 60 in February, 53 in March, 59 in April and 41 in the month of May.

Gender-wise, 153 girls and 107 boys were sexually-abused. The provincial breakdown indicates that the Punjab leads with 171 cases, followed by Sindh with 77 and the NWFP and Balochistan with 6 cases each.  Among others documented offenders included: fathers, acquaintances, teachers, police and total strangers. Major forms of abuse during the five months included: 85 cases of rape, 65 of sodomy, 77 of sexual assault, 8 rape-murders and 25 sodomy-murders.

The perpetration of child sexual abuse and exploitation is often due to the cumulative violation of several fundamental human rights. Cultural traditions, ignorance of the law, inept law enforcement agencies and an ineffective judiciary obstruct implementation and enforcement of protective laws and the upholding of constitutionally protected rights. LHRLA President, Zia Awan stresses that the concerned authorities must swiftly bring perpetrators of these crimes to justice. Furthermore, the Government of Pakistan is urged to generate the political will to effectively implement its international commitments subsequent to its 1990 ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.  In accordance with (Art. 19) of the convention, State parties must critically examine existing national legislation to ensure that children are protected against "all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parents, legal guardians or any other person who has care of the child".

For Further Information
Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid(LHRLA)
D-1, Ist Floor Court View Apartment Court View
Road Opp. Sindh Assembly Building Karachi
Pakistan. Ph: 5685824, 111-911-922
Email: madadgaar@cyber.net.pklhrla@fascom.com
Web site: www.madadgaar.org /www.lhrla.com

© 2004 Madadgaar/LHRLA