KARACHI: The brutal rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab in Kasur is not a one-off incident. As many as 11 cases of child sexual abuse are reported from across Pakistan every day, according to data collected by non-governmental organisation Sahil.
Even in Kasur—which became the centre of a massive child abuse case in 2014 and 2015—the rape and murders of 12 minor girls, all aged between five to eight years, have been reported in the past twelve months.
According to reports in the media, Aimaan Fatima, Fauzia, Noor Fatima, Sana, Asma and Laiba were among minors kidnapped from the suburbs of Kasur in 2017 and whose dead bodies were later recovered from different parts of the city.
According to the latest numbers released by Sahil, an organisation that works on child protection with a special focus on sexual abuse, a total of 1,764 cases of child abuse were reported from across the country in the first six months of 2017 alone.
In the previous year, the total number of reported child abuse cases stood at a staggering 4,139, bringing the total number of children being abused in Pakistan per day to 11.
The shocking numbers bring to attention the failure of law enforcement agencies in Pakistan, particularly Punjab, in apprehending these criminals and curbing a plague that seems to have taken hold of our society.
According to data from Sahil, out of the total cases of child abuse from January to June 2017, 62 percent were reported from Punjab.
27 percent of cases reported were from Sindh province, while 76, 58, 42, and nine cases reported from Balochistan, FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir respectively.
The number of cases reported from rural areas amounted to 74 percent, while the number of cases reported from urban areas increased by 10 percent as compared to the comparable period in 2016.
Last year, a 17 percent decrease was reported in child abuse cases as compared to the previous year. From January to June, a total of 1,764 cases of child abuse were reported as compared to the 2,127 cases for the same period in 2016.
Of the total reported cases of sexual abuse in the first six months of 2017, 45 percent of the cases were committed by acquaintances, while another 17 percent of the horrific crimes were carried out by acquaintances and strangers.
Strangers were found responsible for 15 percent of all cases reported in the first six months of 2017.
Of all cases, 15 percent of the crimes were committed at the victim’s own place, while 12 percent were said to have taken place at an acquaintance’s place.
A shocking revelation in the report states that a 100 percent increase in child abuse by landlords was observed in 2017.
Kasur culprits following a pattern?
Reports in the media suggest that the culprits in Kasur seemingly following a pattern—bodies of all of the deceased minors raped and murdered in the first six month of 2017 were found in under-construction houses. But the law enforcement agencies, it appears, have failed to notice.
The families of seven girls and three boys who became the victims of the murderers in Kasur still await justice, despite assurances from the police after public outcry broke after each incident.
With the memories of the ‘Husain Khanwala’ incident in Kasur—in which hundreds of children were abused, filmed and, later, blackmailed by local gangs some two years ago—still fresh in the minds of the public, prominent activists and members of the civil society have raised their voices on social media and demanded justice for Zainab’s family.