‘A child is sexually abused every two hours in Pakistan’ Where are we heading?

Between January and June this year, at least eight cases of children being raped were reported daily.

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  • Rape cases continue to rise as our society prefers supporting the powerful over the vulnerable.
  • Before Kashmore, there was the Motorway rape, the Zainab rape, the Kasur scandal, the Mukhtaran Mai rape – the list goes on, but no tangible results are in sight.
  • There is a need for discussion so that the issue no longer remains taboo and so that society can understand the sensitive issue in more depth.

Kashmore rape incident – rape cases continue to rise in Pakistan.

The voices of condemnation, call for punishment, cries for justice, and the dialogue on gender-based violence have regained momentum as another rape incident made the headlines. Following the Motorway rape incident, the Kashmore tragedy came to light. This time, a woman and her daughter – just five years old – had been gang-raped.

Criminologist Dr. Naima Saeed exclaimed:

We keep hearing ‘society is jolted’ as one rape case [is reported] after another, but we have been ‘jolted’ thousands of times. It’s a joke now.

Pakistani society continues to blame the rape victim.

Will the discourse be lost again as no tangible results appear?

Before Kashmore, there was the Motorway rape, the Zainab rape, the Kasur scandal, the Mukhtaran Mai rape – the list goes on.

Each incident sparked an outcry that died down after days, weeks, or months until another woman or child fell prey to predators.

Every two hours, a sexual abuse incident takes place in Pakistan.

Has this become a trend?

Sheraz Ahmed, from NGO War Against Rape, stated:

39,989 child abuse cases were reported in the country between 2009 to 2019.

A report by child protection NGO Sahil described:

Between January and June this year, at least eight cases of children being raped were reported daily.

Data collected by the Human Right Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) put forward similar insights:

A case of rape was reported every two hours in the country five years ago.

The data collected by various NGOs state that the barbaric crime is on the rise.

Majority of the rape cases are not even reported in Pakistan.

Is the reality far worse than what the data states?

HRCP’s Asad Iqbal Butt states: 

The reported data on child abuse in Pakistan is just a fraction of reality. Ninety-five percent of juvenile abuse cases take place at children’s homes, often perpetrated by family members. Parents and elders often decide against reporting the cases, explaining the gap between the written and actual cases of child sexual abuse.

Pakistani psychologist explains the mind of a rapist.

What leads one to commit a heinous crime?

Psychologist Dr. Asha Bedar explains:

Rapists see inflicting abuse on women and children as an expression of power. They want to show they are powerful. Hence, they target the most vulnerable individuals: women and children, including boys.

Dr. Bedar further added:

Children are not just vulnerable, but at times they may be seeking attention. When their families fail to give them attention, they look outside, where they are easily manipulated and abused by predators.

In Pakistan, society fails to condemn rape and continues to blame the victim.

Is society failing to condemn rape?

Expressing worry, Dr. Saeed stated:

Rape cases would continue to rise as our society prefers supporting the powerful over the vulnerable. We cannot even expect a few words of [empathy] for victims facing any oppression.

Dr. Bedar explained:

This phenomenon is known as “cultural protection” for rape. Society has excuses ready [to justify rapists’ behavior] each time. We point to the clothes of a woman or a girl or question why she was at a particular place at a specific time.

Then Dr. Bedar posed a question: 

If it’s about time, place, or clothes, what explains the rape of young children, including boys?

Commenting on this societal response, Dr. Bedar said: 

Not only were rape survivors blamed, but people also tended to demand capital punishment for culprits, ignoring the need for debate to find a solution to the problem. People are too emotional. Punishment through the judicial system would create a more long-lasting impact.

The government and the people of Pakistan need to step up to stop rape.

What can we do to help?

According to Dr. Bedar, there is a need for discussion so that the issue no longer remains taboo and so that society can understand the sensitive issue in more depth. Dr. Bedar highlighted that the following could help: 

  • People can initiate campaigns to teach children about consent, misogyny, toxic masculinity, and gender-based issues.
  • The government can formulate stringent laws against rape, provide fast-track prosecution facilities and psychological help to survivors.

What are your thoughts on this? Please share with us in the comment section below.


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