Human Rights

Child sexual abuse: Let’s make Pakistan safer for our kids in 2021

By Omer Aftab

LAHORE, Thursday, December 31, 2020 (WNP/DL): Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is the darkest and most destructive experience that a child can undergo. CSA not only affect the children physically but it causes long term psychological issues that may adversely affect their lives. The impact of child sexual abuse is not just devastating for survivors, but it also affects the families, communities and society at large because of its social, cultural, behavioural and psychological consequences.

The stats show that the barbaric crime of child sexual abuse is rising. In the last decade, more than sixteen thousand cases of child sexual abuse were reported which shows the gravity of the dangers that children face in Pakistan. The reported data on child sexual abuse is just a fraction of reality as the subject is often brushed under the rug and not reported.

CSA remained a taboo and neglected issue in our society. Offenders keep exploiting children sexually for years because they know that children would not reach out to anyone for help and that they can easily get away with it.

If we can understand why some children may be more likely to be vulnerable to sexual abuse, we can protect them. There are many factors that make a child vulnerable to abuse like they cannot resist if someone use power against them. Train them to make their defense strong, so they can protect themselves or get help they need.

Parents and caregivers must remain more vigilant of their children’s whereabouts and activities – both within and outside of the house. Knowing the potential risks, recognizing the signs of abuse, being aware of inappropriate behavior of people roaming around children and detecting early signs of abuse by analyzing their physical and behavioral indicators can prevent child sexual abuse.

Don’t remain silent and take appropriate action if you notice any of the following signs in children.

  • Child is engaged in activities that a child of his/her age would not know
  • A sudden change in social life and academic performances
  • If a child has a secret and special relationship with someone
  • If a child is harming himself/herself
  • Sleeping disorder and nightmares
  • Becoming isolated
  • Unexplained mood swings
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Changes in different habits
  • Unexplained soreness or bruises around genitals or mouth

We need to discuss and create awareness about this topic to make people understand that there is no shame for the victims or their families to break this taboo.

A child who is being abused may reach out for help once. It is important that all victims are taken seriously and offered appropriate support so end the shaming culture of a person who complains. If we strengthen the support system around children, it weakens the perpetrator

We should make our children comfortable with the idea of “sharing” so that they do not feel hesitation in case they encounter any unusual or inappropriate experience. Being actively involved in a child’s life can make warning signs of child sexual abuse more obvious and help the child feel more comfortable coming to you if something isn’t right.

Structural prevention is crucial to eliminating child sexual abuse completely. We all have to take steps to stop child sexual abuse. The government has formulated stringent laws against child rape recently to curb the issue. But still, it must ensure the laws are fully implemented and provide fast-track prosecution facilities.

EHAD is running a nationwide awareness campaign to guide and protect growing up children on important issues related to their well-being especially child abuse by engaging parents and teachers.

Mr Omer Aftab, CEO of EHAD is a distinguished Pakistani social entrepreneur. He is an accomplished campaign strategist working for the last 33 years specialised in Campaigning, Behavior Transformation Communications Strategic Public Relations with many proven success stories.

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