The easiest target for the most heinous types of criminals often happen to be children, in many cases, their own relatives. The recent case of a four-year-old girl tortured by her aunt stands testimony to this fact. The incident at hand can be seen as an example of how shame associated with divorce perpetuates unacceptability for children in the new household. That leaves them with exploitative caregivers who think of them as a liability or burden.

The sad reality is that we, as a society, have been failing our children for a long time. As a result, the abuse of children is increasingly prevalent. The most commonly reported perpetrators of child abuse and neglect are the caregivers, such as parents and other family members, teachers, health care workers, employers, and acquaintances.

Despite the fact that Pakistan ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child long ago, the state has not done enough in this regard. Pakistani laws do not afford sufficient protection against torture and other ill-treatment. This legislative vacuum is among the leading causes of many cases of maltreatment reported in Pakistan. Children are frequent victims of these violations. As a result, the fundamental human dignity of all children and the urgency of ensuring their well-being and development are compromised.

In fairness, child abuse has started to become a focus of concern for government and public sectors for the last two decades in Pakistan. However, physical abuses as harsh disciplinary and child-rearing practices are still common in Pakistani society. Children’s rights in Pakistan have to be fostered at the federal level and therefore inscribed in the national legal framework. Before anything else, public perception needs to be altered. And the state can ensure the protection of children only by making policies for child protection and introducing strict penalties for those who torture children.