The report released by Sahil, an organisation that works on the issue of child abuse, for the year 2018 speaks volumes about our moral bankruptcy. The report shows how we, as a society, are failing our children. According to the compilation of Sahil, a total of 3,832 child abuses cases surfaced in the previous year, which means that over ten children abused every day in Pakistan in 2018 alone. The actual figure of abused children is, indeed, much higher as the organisation relied on cases that were reported in media.

Nevertheless, the document tells us about a very alarming situation and hostile environment for children to grow up. What is the state doing about the pressing issue of child abuse? How are we, as a community, dealing with the menace of child abuse? The issue of child abuse is a serious one for it can inflict permanent damage on the psyche of the victim apart from the physical injuries to his/her body.

What is unfortunate and depressing is the fact that our society considers the issue a taboo. Elders, in general, and parents, in particular, do not educate the younger ones on the issue. As a result, the kids become more vulnerable to the instances of child abuse because they do not know what to do whenever they find themselves in a situation that can be a potential case of child abuse.

Of all other kinds of child abuse issues, the most damaging one is sexual abuse. According to the study of Sahil, the year 2018 saw a 33 per cent rise in the cases of child sexual abuse (CSA). Both boys and girls of a young age are victims of this evil. The issue of CSA has become more problematic as the Sahil study shows that the victims of CSA include children of all ages, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic classes.

We now know that both crime prevention and social protection mechanisms have failed to protect children from abuse, especially sexual abuse. In Pakistan, reliance is on short-term measures like punishing one or two culprits. However, such short-term solutions are not enough to curb the widespread issue of child abuse.

There is no simple way forward to curb this menace. The solution needs to be multi-pronged. First, the state must come up with legislation having no loopholes. Second, there is an urgent need of initiating a public dialogue against the issue at hands. Third, national curriculum needs to be redesigned to better educate children about the issue and its various forms. This way, the society and state by pointing out the fault lines and working together can fix the problem of child abuse.