According to the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, Pakistan is ranked among the top five most dangerous countries in the world for kidnap and ransom with incidents recorded in the ‘mid-to-high hundreds’ each year. The Human Rights Commission South Asia (HRCSA) reported that in 2011 alone around 7000 cases of child abduction were reported from across Pakistan. Majority of the kidnappings took place in Karachi where 3090 children were abducted in 2011. The increasing influence of militants in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA has resulted in incidents of child kidnapping in the conflict affected areas. Pakistan has also been characterized as a country with high incidence of child trafficking. The Trafficking in Persons Report 2011 declares Pakistan as a ‘source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking’.
However, no concrete figures of child abuse are available on Gilgit-Baltistan despite everyone knowing that such incidents are taking place at an unprecedented rate in the region. Since the nationwide figures are put together after taking into account all ‘reported child abuses,’ it is apparent that incidents of child abuse are either rarely taken serious or rarely reported in GB. It is also possible that people involved in child abuse are either too powerful or the victims are too weak or uneducated to report the cases.
There can be no crime more terrible than the sexual and physical abuse of children. While checking my Facebook newsfeed some days ago, I was extremely saddened to know about the ruthless and cruel rape and murder of an innocent 8-year-old boy in Gilgit. This is not the first case of child molestation in Gilgit-Baltistan. Hundreds of such incidents take place each year, but they go unnoticed and unreported apparently due to the fact that parents deem it as a social taboo and fear that their child may get a social stigma for the rest of his/her life. However, the brutal molestation and murder of Hasnain has apparently awakened Gilgit-Baltistan, given the anger and activism of the civil society against the incident. Now is the time to take child molestation in GB seriously.
Given the activism of the civil society after Hasnain’s murder, I am optimistic that any potential or existing child molester would think hundred times before even thinking to go for such a crime. Lets raise our voice for the thousands of Hasnains who are alive and against the mindset responsible for such acts. The power of social media is immense and we can use it to report such cases and bring it to the attention of authorities. However, social media activism would go undeliverable without action on ground. Let’s not keep our protest limited to commenting on Facebook, rather let’s do something practical to save the future of GB and get justice for Hasnain. Lets save the thousands of children who go to school every day for the sake of knowledge and become victim of those inhumane acts.
Now is the time for parents and children to realize that child sex abuse is a crime and it is their responsibility to report any such incident. We also need to shun the perception that reporting of child molestation, rape or any such incident would bring us a bad name; rather it may save the life of another potential victim. This incident has also reinforced the need for sex education in schools whereby children are taught to report to their parents or trusted persons any inappropriate behavior, touching and act by likely sex offenders.
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