It is heart aching to watch the news of an innocent six-year-old girl who was rapped multiple times and her body was thrown away within limits of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi two months back. Such incidents are recently happening more frequently in our society.
Shail, a non-government organization (NGO) from Islamabad, Pakistan collects data on child sexual abuse (CSA) cases from across the country and publishes them every year. According to the data from 2010, a total of 4,543 abusers were involved in devastating the lives of 2,252 children by committing CSA.
One third of the incidents were reported from the urban areas while 67% from the rural areas. It’s unfortunate to learn that more than half of the cases occurred in Punjab. In the year 2011, 2942 cases of child sexual abuse were reported which shows that there is an increase of 30% as compare to the cruel numbers from the year 2010.
Child abuse is defined as the physical, sexual or emotional mistreatment or neglect of a child which could have negative impact on the child, physically or psychologically. CSA is the considered as the worse form of abuse.
Since CSA constitute only a fraction of child abuse cases, the figures published by Sahil are just the peak of an ice berg as they ignore the other aspects of child abuse pertaining to physical and emotional maltreatment or neglect.
There are substantial short term and long term consequences of child abuse on the growth and development of children. The abused victims suffer from low self-esteem, brain damage, unstable relationships, learning difficulties and behavioral disorders. The younger ones have the worse prognosis in terms of getting fractures and bruises.
Child neglect and abuse can have profound negative effects on the schooling of the children where they could face problems with disciplinary issues. Many children require counseling, psychiatric treatment or even hospitalization in order to tackle the aftermaths medically.
If we look in the long run, these children are prone to develop anti social personality disorder and turn into criminals and spread violence. Hence, the long term consequences are beyond our imagination as it not only ruins the life of the victims, but also creates problems for the society in the long run.
As far as parents are concerned, the most important way to stop sexual abuse, is to be vigilant. If your children began exhibiting classic signs of sexual abuse such as odd injuries, ripped clothing, depression, drug abuse, hyper-sexuality, withdrawal and lack of interest in daily chores, then you should investigate immediately.
The second way to stop sexual abuse is to listen to your children and remove them from any dangerous situation they might be facing. Children will not tell anybody what is happening to them unless they can find an adult, whom they can trust completely. If your children want to talk about any of such issues, they should not be blamed for such incident nor should be discouraged to share.
It’s equally important to talk to your children about child abuse and teach them how to differentiate the appropriate and inappropriate ways of touching. Also, educate your children about trusted adults in the community whom they can seek out for help, if their parents are not available. Parents should be aware of the fact that most cases of sexual abuse are perpetuated by men, and most of those men are known to the children.
To sum up in one word, it’s the collective responsibility of everyone to fight child abuse. It is one of our moral obligations to fight for the child rights. Do not be silent and ignore it by thinking of it as absurd. Predators will not be able to survive without our quietness. It is the silence that encourages them to rape the innocent children. Time has come now that we should speak up and stand shoulders to shoulders with the future of our country.