Revelations of a rape case of 5 year old girl in Lahore and a massive child abuse scandal in Kausur had triggered widespread shock and anger across the country. Such child abuse scandals drew global attention as a high profile problem; these cases received hype in the media, prompting politicians to announce measures to tackle the problem.
Unfortunately, these cases have faded away with the passage of time because maybe it is not a new issue in Pakistan as it has been happening for several years. Vulnerable children are lured by preparations using various tactics such as by bribing them with sweets, and they are blackmailed but there is no consolidated data on child abuse cases is available neither with the government nor any non-government organization. The cases reported with the police are also not reflective of the on ground situation.
However, the number of child abuse cases is increasing because there is no concrete policy or plan of action to curb such cases. According to the UNICEF, Pakistan has no child protection management system to protect against sexual abuse. It also prepared a policy and urged the government to implement it, but unfortunately it wasn’t executed. Even Punjab Child Protection Bureau does not have any mechanism to rehabilitate sexually assaulted children.
Speaking about increasing number of such incidents and its legislation, The National Assembly’s standing committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights have recently approved a bill to amend the criminal law regarding punishment of culprits in child abuse cases. The bill states that offenders guilty of abuse would be sentenced to life imprisonment, while the perpetrators who persuade the children and film them would be sentenced to seven years.
The Logical Pakistani highlights the urgent need for the government not only to introduce more and effective reforms regarding child abuse and thus enhance Pakistani public institutions’ capacity to prevent, protect and respond to child protection concerns.
Child abusers have a mindset that should be broken, when a clear policy is in place with practical steps, like establishing a child protection authority for the whole country and bureaus at administrative subdivisions. In such scenario, case management can be strengthened and children can be protected from sexual abuse.