Pakistan ranked 51st out of 60 for child abuse

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Out of the Shadow Index 2022 (OOSI22) ranked Pakistan 51 out of 60 countries from the perspective of child sexual exploitation and abuse. OOSI 22, Central Asia Report was launched in Islamabad by a Pakistan-based NGO, Good Thinkers Organization. At the launch event, Waqas Abid Advocate, President of the Good Thinkers organization, said that Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA) is a global epidemic that occurs in every country in the world with widespread consequences not only for individuals, but for societies as a whole. These terrible consequences are hampering progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goals 3, 4, 5 and 16.

As we move closer to 2030, there is still a significant opportunity to redouble our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, but without urgency for CSEA issues from national governments to provinces, we run the risk of not achieving these goals and leave millions of children and young people vulnerable to the effects of CSEA. The Out of the Shadows Index (OOSI) is the premier global assessment of how countries approach CSEC. The 2022 report assesses how 60 countries (home to approximately 85% of the world’s child population) prevent and respond to CSEA. Unlike any other research, OOSI sheds light on the “governance architecture” of CSEA – the national systems in place to address the complex problem of CSEA in its two fundamental dimensions: prevention and response.

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The 2022 OOSI report reveals that many governments are failing to create the policies needed to prevent and respond to CSEA. Less than half of indexed countries are considered to have a strategy to end CSEA. However, we are improving in how we understand CSEA issues through data. Fifteen years ago, there was little or no data on the prevalence of CSEA. Today, nearly three-quarters of countries (73%) collect and publish data on the number of recorded and reported cases of CSEA.

The OOSI-2022 shows that income alone is not an important determinant of a country’s ability to successfully prevent and respond to CSEA. Three of the top ten countries – South Africa, Indonesia and Turkey – are middle-income economies and 55% of the top 20 countries are non-high income countries. While sharing the statistics from Pakistan, Waqas Abid further added that in 2022, from January to June, data from the NGO SAHIL reveals that 1,207 girls and 1,004 boys are victims of sexual exploitation. This year, the reported cases in the main categories are kidnapping 803, rape 243, sodomy 298, gang rape 41 and gang sodomy 87.

No less than 17 boys and 13 girls were murdered after committing sexual abuse. There are more gruesome incidents in which 2 boys and a girl were murdered after gang sodomy and gang rape, and 212 children were found missing. There are 17 cases of early marriage and 3 cases of Vani. Holistic prevention and response systems are needed to eliminate sexual violence against children. Civil society organizations, media, citizens and governance institutions should make joint efforts to ensure that legislative reforms at the provincial level in Pakistan eliminate child sexual exploitation and abuse in order to tackle permanently to these problems. Waqas Abid Advocate called on civil society organizations, donors, international community and local authorities to increase resource allocation for children in Pakistan.

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Mr. Saad Waseem MNA, Parliamentary Secretary also gave his full commitment to legislative reforms, new laws and implementation of existing laws to protect children from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation. On behalf of the Punjab Provincial Assembly, Anayat Ullah Lak shared that the provincial government has zero tolerance for issues related to children. The Punjab Provincial Assembly always welcomes positive legislative developments, especially from a child rights perspective. Mr. Ahmar Majeed Advocate presented a comprehensive analysis of existing laws relating to children and common shortcomings. He insisted that these shortcomings be filled by legislative amendments.

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