Alarming increase in minor sexual abuse cases in Karachi in 2022

Faraz Khan
Representational illustration —
Representational illustration —
  • Over 200 minor sexual abuse cases reported in Karachi in 2022
  • At least six such cases were reported in three and a half months
  • Most vulnerable age group was 5-11 (36 %), followed by 12-17 (29 %)

KARACHI: Cases of minor girls’ murder after rape have seen a worrisome increase in Karachi during 2022 with a sudden upsurge monitored recently, with at least six such cases reported in three and a half months — half of them this December alone, reported The News on Tuesday.

Over 200 sexual abuse cases have been reported in the city this year. The Karachi police statistics show that in eight of the 216 abuse cases, the victims were aged five years or less, 40 were between six and 10, 38 were between 15 and 18, and 95 were over 18.

Police have arrested the suspects in almost all minor abuse-related cases. In most cases, close relatives and neighbours were involved.

This month, a man named Mujeebullah, alias Nadeem was arrested over the rape and murder of his 12-year-old niece in the Jacob Lines area, in the Brigade police station’s jurisdiction.

Sindh police chief IGP Ghulam Nabi Memon told The News, “In cases where close relatives are involved and doing such things in the house; the police can’t do anything.” However, he added that the police could timely investigate these cases with the help of forensic and digital evidence they gather.

Explaining how forensic evidence helps solve such cases, the IG Sindh said, “In the Landhi Muslimabad case, in which a murdered seven-year-old girl was found in the garbage on December 16, forensic evidence helped the police. While 25 DNA samples didn’t match, the 26th did.”

“Police investigations in such cases have seen much improvement compared to the earlier situation, but now they need more training to deal with these cases,” the IGP said regarding the expertise of police investigators.

The War Against Rape (WAR), a non-governmental organisation focusing on such incidents, told that until July, in the 42 cases, 27 (64%) survivors were children under 18 years.

The most vulnerable age group was 5-11 years (36%), followed by 12-17 years (29%). The average age was 14 years in all cases investigated, with the minimum age of survivors being five years.

Thirty-eight (90%) cases were reported of women and female children. Regarding the nature of the assault, 64% of the cases were rape, 18% of gang rape, 12% of incest and 6% of sexual assault.

District West has been the red-alert zone, indicating the highest incidence of sexual violence at 47%, followed by District East 21%, District Korangi 14%, Malir and South districts 8% each, and the Keamari and Central districts 1% each.

WAR programme officer Sheraz Ahmed told The News, “The government should adopt and expand life skills-based education, also known as comprehensive sexuality education, across Pakistan.”

He added, “They should also expand training programmes for parents and teachers to make children aware of the good and bad touch, or the self-protection knowledge. You can’t trust anyone. Close relatives are also found involved in some of these cases.”

He pointed out that parents should have a good relationship with their children to train them to sense the bad touches and never leave their children alone at home.

“But if they’re forced to leave their children home alone, they should lock the door outside after taking all the precautionary measures like switching off the gas, etc.”

He stressed the need for the effective implementation of the Zainab Alert app. He said that some cases were reported on the application, but the government was not accepting them.

“Children will be safeguarded when the state’s approach is proactive. Teachers should learn tips and techniques to identify child sexual abuse symptoms or signs. The media can also play a better role in spreading awareness.”

He said that the police should also play their role because these cases occur inside homes and out on the streets and empty plots, adding that the police should take the missing cases seriously.

He lamented that in some cases, police negligence or delay is found to be the cause of the culprits succeeding in their brutal acts. Since close relatives and neighbours are involved, they kill the victims to protect their identities and avoid being arrested.

“The minor Afghan girl killed recently at the Afghan camp in Karachi had been abducted, then raped and murdered on an empty plot. She was playing with the neighbours’ children and was alone when she was kidnapped because her friends had gone back home. The parents' responsibility was to ask her to return home on time.”

The Karachi police surgeon’s office has also recorded an increase in such cases. “In the last year, cases of rape-murder have increased considerably. Of much concern is the number of minor boys and girls murdered after being raped,” Police Surgeon Dr Summaiya Syed told The News.

“A variety of injuries have been seen, depending upon the age and physique of the victim in comparison with the perpetrator. In most instances involving very young children, there may not be physical injuries because they’re quickly overpowered.”

December 13

A six-year-old Afghan girl was raped and killed after missing from outside her house. The family frantically searched for her but to no avail. Later, the girl’s body was recovered from a deserted house near the Gulshan-e-Maymar Afghan camp police checkpoint.

December 8

A teenage girl was raped and murdered by a man the locals then caught as he tried to escape in the Gulshan-e-Iqbal neighbourhood, which falls in the Mobina Town police station’s jurisdiction.

The 14-year-old girl was found inside her home near the Mosamiyat area. A local plumber had strangled her. The killer had worked at her house as a plumber. He had forced his way into the house when the girl was alone.

December 6

A 12-year-old girl was killed after being subjected to rape in a house located in the Jacob Lines area, which falls in the Brigade police station’s jurisdiction. Police arrested her uncle for the incident.

November 18

A seven-year-old girl was raped and killed in Landhi’s Muslimabad area, which falls in the Quaidabad police station’s jurisdiction. Her family held a protest because the police delayed searching for the missing girl and registering a case for at least two days.

September 21

A 12-year-old girl was found hanging from the ceiling in a room of her house in the Korangi area, which falls in the Zaman Town police station’s jurisdiction. Police said she might have been killed by her tormentor, fearing that she would speak up against him.

September 10

A 10-year-old girl was raped and killed in Kashmir Colony, which falls in the Mehmoodabad police station’s jurisdiction. The suspect strangled the victim first and then raped her. The victim’s parents said they found the girl’s body on the stairs leading up to the first floor of their house.