On Tuesday an NGO, Sahil, published a report called ‘Cruel Numbers 2015” that analyses incidents of child abuse by using information gleaned from newspapers. The damning report reveals that altogether 3,768 children - 1,974 girls and 1,794 boys - were reportedly abused across the country during 2015. That showed a 7% rise in the crime over 2014 and the sordid statistic of 10 children abused every day during 2015. Even more shocking than this number is fact that the 167 child abuse cases reported in Islamabad in 2015 surpassed the 113 cases reported from the entire Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province – an 85% increase from last year. Once we take into consideration that the vast majority of child abuse goes unreported we can see how ominous this problem truly is.

Unfortunately, combating child, and sexual abuse ranks low on the government’s priority list. The idea that sexual crimes are prevalent in India has taken the global populations fancy, and each crime there is extensively highlighted. Pakistan – which has similar cultural and rural development demographics – has a similar problem, as the numbers suggest, but the government’s response is decidedly different. Cases of rape and sexual assault are rarely allowed to be media headlines, and those that become ones are swiftly dismissed as an isolated incident. It was not long ago that the country was shocked by the incidents of child pornography and mass sexual assault in Kasur – an incident that was unprecedented in terms of scale and maliciousness. Yet, what should have led to a country wide and public inquest was instead undermined, undersold, and eventually shunned from the public’s eye. Whatever became of the Joint Investigation Commission? Today the accused maybe awaiting trial, but the wider problem of almost institutional child abuse has gone uninvestigated.

The government still refuses to deal with sexual problems head on – after all it is one that banned a condom ad for implying that using a condom might be pleasurable too as well as controlling unwanted birth. It still tiptoes around rape and assault and hopes that what happens behind closed doors should stay behind them. This attitude has changed somewhat, with the state inserting itself into the home through the women’s protection bill. It must undertake a similar initiative to bring cases of sexual assault and child abuse under control.