Non-governmental organization Sahil last week released its annual Cruel Numbers report, noting that there had been a 30 percent increase in reported cases of child abuse during 2021 as compared to the previous year.
Utilizing data from 88 national and regional newspapers, the Cruel Numbers 2021 report states that 3,852 cases of child abuse—sexual abuse; abduction; missing children; child marriages—were reported across Pakistan the past year. “The data shows that more than 10 children have been abused per day during the year 2021,” it said, adding that the gender breakdown showed that 54 percent of all reported victims were girls, while 46 percent were boys.
According to the geographical distribution of the data, Punjab reported the bulk of the 3,852 cases cited by Sahil. However, it noted, all other provinces, as well as Islamabad, Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, had also recorded cases of child abuse. Of the 3,852 reported cases, per Sahil, 2,211, or 57 percent, were reported from rural areas. It said 2,275 cases were of child sexual abuse, adding that both genders were equally victimized. Of these, 92 children were murdered after being sexually abused.
It said that the age at which children were most vulnerable to abuse, according to reported statistics, was 6-15. In that age group, it stressed, more boys were victimized than girls. Infants and children under five years old were also sexually abused, it said.
Of the cases reported by media, said Sahil, 84 percent were registered with police. It said 1,303 cases of abduction were reported, of which 233, or 18 percent, also suffered sexual abuse after being kidnapped.
The NGO said that 80 cases of child marriage were reported during 2021, with 70 of them involving young girls and 10 boys.
Referring to abusers, the Sahil report reiterated that acquaintances remained the most prevalent in cases of child sexual abuse, along with service providers, family members, strangers, and women abettors. The role of women accomplices, it said, had increased from 29 cases in 2020 to 86 cases in 2021.
The NGO said that its annual report aimed at presenting data on abuse directed toward children under-18. This data, it said, was aimed at helping researchers, academics, media houses, and legislators to work on strategies to prevent child abuse, adding that it would also contribute to spreading awareness and information about different forms of child sexual abuse to all segments of society.