We are part of a society where more than five out of every hundred children are subjected to some form of sexual harassment. If the increasing number of sexual harassment cases in the world is taken into account, we have seen a 100% increase over the last ten years. Likewise, the proportion of these cases in South Asia is double than the rest of the world. If we restrict this research further and find out the number of sexual harassment cases in India and Pakistan, our brain will go astray. It’s really an eye opener and happening with boys and children as well and not just with the girls.
In 2019, more than 40,000 cases were reported in India. The rape of more than 27,000 girls and 7,000 children was a big shock for the Human Rights Organizations and Government. Now turn the camera towards our own country Pakistan where we have seen an increase of over 200% in the last decade. More than, 28,000 cases of sexual abuse/harassment out of which 15,000 were girls and other 13,000 boys & children.
Generally, in our country, children are taught to be humble and expected to tolerate the violence. The relationship between parents/guardians and children is based on forceful obedience and not on mutual trust. Violence against children is considered as a usual thing in homes, schools and madrasa’s. In 2018, a six years old child girl (Zainab) was brutally murdered after rape in Kasur. Many undercover child pornography gangs are working and have been supported by police and strong personalities like Malik Ahmed (a political leader) who was un-covered during Zainab investigation case.
Pakistan is one of the signatory of UN conventions of Children rights (UNCRC) but having a poor history of preventing child violence.
In first week of January, 2019 a 3 years old baby girl Faryal was raped in a district near Abbottabad and shortly after, an another girl eight years old Minhal was murdered in Nowshera after which civil society & human rights organizations started a campaign which was largely supported by Media specially by (social Media) at all levels across world. Pakistani society is afflict by the widespread child abuse and specially sexual harassment in religious seminaries (Madrasa’s) is a scary and tragic reality which has increased substantially in the last 5 years. I was watching a video report “The dirty secret about Pakistani Madrassa’s” which explore the truth behind our seminaries in a negative way.
The report said that clerics accused of preying young and underage students in Madrassas. The fear of cleric suppresses further reporting of abuse. Police accused of favoring clerics & intimidating families of children. The report showed a mother of a victim from Kehrore Pakka a district in Punjab crying at her helplessness and “it is only because of Allah that my son is alive, what if he had died? she said in patience”. Sexual abuse, fear and cover-ups in Pakistani seminaries. I watched in another report in which a victim child had been interviewed, while sharing his story he said that i was crying while my cleric was hurting me, he shoved my shirt in my mouth. I wept the whole night, in morning my classmates received calls from their parents. I told them, call my parents and tell my mother pull me out of the Madrassa.
On the other side, police accuse families of taking money, leaving them with no case. There are more than 30,000 Madrassa’s in Pakistan while no central authority governing it. People are poor and they worrying day and night about their daily bread and butter so these seminaries are the best option for their children as they can at least get free food and education. This is very unfortunate that our Government is allocating a very small amount of fund for children education and other related activities.
An academic research revealed that our legislators are failed to form a proper legislation & system of protection for child abuse. In 2019, more than 100 cases of child rape & sexual abuse were registered against clerics of Madrassa’s (Seminaries) and 13 children were brutally killed by these clerics after rape while the numbers were 350 in the last 10 years before 2019. Pakistan is one of the signatory of UN conventions of Children rights (UNCRC) but having a poor history of preventing child violence.
To avoid such cases, the government needs to make strict legislation as well as must have to take steps to educate the children and to support the poor families to bring up their children. In addition, the Government must also adopt a strategy and should provide legal support to the victims who feared to report the case because of their poverty. Our religious scholars never played their positive role what they were expected to play, these scholars and clerics can play a vital role to stop growing such incidents by using the relative material from religious books and Quran.
The society should play its role by educating the children regarding sex abuse and by reporting case after an incident. The non-Government Organization working for Child protection, human & women rights must also share their part rather than only focusing on foreign funding and should spread their framework to gross route level. In such way, we can prevent such demons from growing.