'In Pakistan, 11 children abused per day during 2023'

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Web Desk
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The picture shows a silhouette of a child. — AFP/File
The picture shows a silhouette of a child. — AFP/File

At least 4,213 children suffered abuse in the year 2023, while 11 children were abused per day on average during the year across Pakistan, according to a report released by a non-profit organisation (NGO) working for child protection.

The report titled ‘Cruel Numbers 2023,’ a signature publication of Sahil, launched on Thursday with the support of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR).

The NCHR statement quoted the report as saying that in the year 2023, a total number of 4,213 child abuse cases were reported from all four provinces including Islamabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), and Gilgit Baltistan (GB).

The total number of cases includes reported cases of child sexual abuse, cases of abduction, cases of missing children, and cases of child marriages.

'Acquaintances most involved in CSA' 

Gender divide analysis of the data shows that out of the total reported cases of child abuse, 2,251 (53%) of victims were girls and 1962 (47%) were boys. The reported age shows that children are most vulnerable to abuse in the age group of 6-15 years, in which more boys than girls' victims were reported, as per the report.

Moreover, children as young as 0-5 years were also sexually abused. The abuser's category of Cruel Numbers 2023 indicates that acquaintances are still the most involved in child sexual abuse, along with relatives, family members, strangers, and women abettors.

The geographical divide statistics show that out of the total 4,213 reported cases, 75% were reported from Punjab, 13% cases from Sindh, 7% cases from Islamabad capital territory, 3% cases from KP, and 2% cases from Balochistan, AJK, and GB.

Speaking on this occasion, NCHR Chairperson Rabia Javeri Agha said that, “We have to seriously address the issue of child abuse. The numbers reported by Sahil are indeed cruel, but a reality that we must confront. In view of these alarming figures, it is sad that the Government of Pakistan still does not have a notified national action plan on child abuse.

Sahil Executive Director Manizeh Bano said that Article 25-A in the Constitution of Pakistan provides free education from 5 to 16 years. “This must be implemented to ensure education of children. There is a dire need to improve the curriculum to provide life-skills based education.”

'Both genders equally victimised'

The Cruel Number 2023 shows that among the total reported cases, 91% were registered with the police. The report termed it as a positive sign indicating the active role of police in addressing the issue.

It shows that the cases of only CSA were 2,021, with both genders equally victimised. A total number of 61 cases reported murder after sexual abuse and a total number of 1,833 of cases were reported of abduction. The number of missing children was 330 and of child marriages was 29 with 27 cases of girls, and 2 cases of boy.

This year, Sahil also monitored cases of children up to 18 years, who had suffered some kind of injury or death. Out of a total of 2,184 cases monitored, highest numbers were of children were 694 drowned 401, died in accidents 286, murdered 121 tortured, 111 injured, 110 committed suicide and died from 103 electric shocks.

Sahil has compiled ‘Cruel Numbers 2023’ by monitoring 81 national and regional newspapers daily. The objectives of this report is to present the data on the situation regarding violence against children and to contribute to existing information on CSA in Pakistan. 

In addition to that, the research is also aimed at contributing towards spreading awareness and information about different forms of CSA to all segments of society.