Pakistan ranks third in online child abuse, NGO report finds

Pakistani flags woman girls

Pakistan witnessed a rise in sexual crimes against children and the country ranked third in online child abuse, JustEarth News reported citing the data revealed by NGO. Amid multiple crises, Pakistan has neglected their child which lead to an increase in sexual abuse against them. Year by year, children were seen getting trapped in sexual abuse.

In the rape and other abuse cases, Pakistan witnessed an increase of 33 per cent in 2022. And the children abused online remain in the same age group as physically abused ones--nine to 13. According to Sahil, an NGO working to prevent sexual violence against children last year, 4253 children were subjected to sexual and other violence across Pakistan--almost 12 cases a day, a horrendous figure for any country.

As per the JustEarth News, the majority of children, who were victims of sexual abuse, are girls. Most vulnerable children fall in the age group of 6 and 15 years and the majority of them fall victim to relatives or known persons. Such abuses have triggered a wave of mental health issues among abused young children. These children, as they grow up, remain affected by anxiety, depression and loss of self-respect, an epidemic least cared for in Pakistan.

The horror of child sexual abuse has multiplied with the proliferation of social media sites and the dark web where child pornography is peddled with impunity. According to JustEarth News, Pakistan's FIA, which was tasked to act against such crimes, has recorded over two million cases of child exploitation imagery uploaded onto the internet.

The cases, however, remained quite low--403 in the last four years. Since 2018, only 124 individuals have been arrested and charged with various offences related to child abuse. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, in its fact-finding report on the child pornography scandal in Kasur in 2015, pointed out that such horrendous cases remain under-reported for two reasons: (i) the social stigma attached to such incidents; and (ii) the atrocious behaviour of the police with those who reported it in a timely manner.

According to the US-based National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, there were 16.9 million reports in 2019; 21.7 million in 2020; and 29.3 million in 2021, reported JustEarth News. This increase has made Pakistan the country ranked third on the international list of such cases.

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