The government must introduce legislation to confront the wide-ranging problem
After the Jan. 9 rape and murder of Kasur’s Zainab, more such cases in Punjab have surfaced in the past week. In Sargodha, the body of a violated 15-year-old girl was dumped in the fields on Jan. 11. Earlier, a 10-year-old vendor was killed after a sexual assault in November and the police had refused to register the case. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has taken notice of the incident and suspended the station house office (SHO) and deputy superintendent of police (DSP) from service.
The body of an 11-year-old boy, who was allegedly strangled after sexual assault, was found in a Patoki sugarcane field near his house on Jan. 11. In Faisalabad, a 16-year-old boy was found dead after going missing. In Sheikhupura, an eight-year-old girl was abducted and raped and strangled before being thrown in a dustbin.
In India, an NGO named Prayas in association with UNICEF and Save the Children, found that over 50 percent children were subjected to physical abuse, with more boys suffering than girls. The first-ever survey on child abuse in the country disclosed that nearly 65% of schoolchildren reported suffering corporal punishment—beatings by teachers—mostly in government schools. Indian actor Amir Khan does a TV program with children cautioning them against abuse proving that such instruction is greatly needed.
More than 50 percent of children in India had been sexually abused in ways that ranged from severe—such as rape or molestation—to “milder” forms of sexual assault that included forcible kissing. The study also interviewed 2,324 young adults between the ages of 18 and 24, almost half of whom reported being physically or sexually abused as children.
Pakistan needs to alert its children to the growing menace and must begin by taking their into confidence. Textbooks must include sex-related education to balance the heavy load of religious instruction. But from media discussions after the trauma of the Zainab case, it is clear that social workers trying to instruct the schools in this matter are firmly opposed by parents and religious leaders. Only a firmly implemented legislation can begin to confront the problem.