Child abuse is a global problem and pervades all cultures and socio_ economic strategies. Effects can b profound and life-altering for victims. Child abuse is basically defined as physical or emotional, verbal abuse, sexual abuse and negligent treatment of a child under age 18. Abusers are usually the relatives of victim rarely they are the strangers. Abuse is a social problem that occurs on a continuum, meaning that verbal abuse may lead to physical abuse or neglect may change to emotional abuse.

Physical abuse is the reaction to the environmental stressors in which the abuser causes physical injuries to the child, including anything from bruises and fractures to brain damage. Emotional abuse is more difficult to pinpoint because the abuse involves a child’s unmet emotional needs, such as for affection, nurturing and positive attention. Instead of meeting these needs, parents reject, terrorize, verbally assaults, and attempts to destroy a child’s self-esteem.

This type of abuse can be tied to the parent’s poor knowledge of normal child growth. Parents expect the child to do or understand things beyond their age even they expect their child to take on a parental role in the relation. Sexual abuse is less common than another type of abuse, with higher incidents occurring in girls under age 18. It is identified as any sexual contact or attempted contact between child and caregiver (or another adult) for the purpose of adult’s gratification or financial benefits, including any injury related to sexual activity. Neglect is considered a failure to provide for child’s minimum physical needs. Minimal needs include food, shelter, clothing etc.

Unfortunately for past few years, sexual child abuse has become a common occurrence in Pakistan which tries to cover itself under the guise of religion but it is shocking and sad that child abuse is rampant in Pakistani society. The most recent  Zainab case and Kasur child abuse scandal are just two infamous incidents which present a very crucial picture of the disease that is plaguing our society.

Government officials and other important persons fail to address this issue and if they do so, it is too late and the cycle continues. Child abuse hunts Pakistani society due to many reasons. There are often chances that the abuser is the family member and due to the lack of communication gap between child and parents and their blind trust for family members contributes to child abuse occurring in this society. The Zainab and the Kasur child sex abuse scandal sent Shockwave around Pakistan and overseas.

However, it is important to note that there are many cases which go unreported and are not often highlighted by media. Child sex abuse in Pakistan can also be dated back to the horrific period of Javed Iqbal who lured about 100 young boys and killed them. He committed suicide in his prison in 2001.

According to an  NGO working for safe environment for Children and tackling child abuse  there were about 2321 cases of child abuse in 2007, 1838 in 2008, 2009,2012. 2252 in 2010 and 2303 in 2011. The scenario of Pakistan regarding child abuse In 2018 was quite alarming compared to 2017. Cases increased from 9 cases per day to 12 cases per day. According to data 56% girls are victims and 44%were boys.

I personally am the witness of an issue. A very close friend of mine was physically abused by her uncle (mother’s brother) when she was young and was continuously abused until she was mature enough to understand what’s right or wrong. When she became aware of what was happening to her she became depressed. She could not tell anyone about it due to the love for that person (abuser). When finally she brought up her courage to tell her mom about it her mom obviously did not take any action regarding that moreover she was restricted not to tell anyone else. And now that’s her condition that she doesn’t even trust her mother or father. She became a complete anti-social person. Despite the fact that she still loves her family she doesn’t trust them. She is alive but she is not living her life. 

We can surely cope with this drastic issue. First and foremost parents should open 2-way communication with their children which provides the best chance that parents will know early when the problem occurs. Every single child weather girl or boy should be taught about sex education especially. They should know about good or bad. And parents should maintain friendly relationships with their children so that the child will be more comfortable to share what is happening in their lives. Instead of telling your child that they are surrounded by danger teach them that they are strong and capable and can count on you to keep them safe as long as they can tell you about that.

Submitted by “Laiba Naseer