Child abuse in Pakistan: A pressing issue

Discussing the issue of violence which a staggering amount of children face in Pakistan.
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Created by Muhammad hassam ali

Published on Feb 27, 2024
young girl in pakistan
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In my home country, child abuse is a multifaceted issue, and there are several types of this detestable crime. The seemingly most common kind of child abuse is mental torture which slowly eats away at one’s mental wellbeing. Most people don’t even realize that they are exercising this abuse as it has become a practice deeply rooted in Pakistani society and culture. 

Such high expectations are imposed on the children that their emotions are impaired. The use of foul language at home disturbs a person’s character and arouses a feeling of bitterness. Moreover, in some homes, parents show favoritism for a certain child for one reason or another, like being the earning bird of the house, and express dissatisfaction with other children which causes them to develop a sense of inferiority within them. In Pakistan, parents nowadays still want their children to adopt a profession for them to have what they consider a prosperous future, even if the child shows strong dislike and lack of inclination towards that particular job. When children are strongly influenced to choose a career of their parent's liking it can cast them off from a sense of independence and responsibility.  

Some parents have extremely high expectations of their children and even threaten to disown them if they don’t pass the specific criteria. This impacts the minds of juveniles, and in some cases, suicidal thoughts hover over them as the only way of escapism. According to a study, in Pakistan, approximately 289 adolescents committed suicide in 2019 and 2020, with most being attributed to conflicts with their parents.

Aside from this, some parts of society have accepted it as a common practice to expose the youth to retaliation to rectify their mistakes. The act of slapping, kicking, and punching children upon small mistakes is a common social practice in Pakistan. 

Perhaps even more harmful than that is child molestation. In Pakistan, an average of 12 children per day are sexually abused. Beyond the initial trauma they face, children exposed to sexual assault can develop PTSD. On top of that, there seems to be little support offered to them afterwards as they are often ostracized and considered a taboo by society. 

Furthermore, in my homeland, child marriages are the most profoundly common yet the most destructive category of child abuse. This is because it includes the coercion of children by their parents into marrying in teenage life, which deprives them of their childhood and basic education. Notably about 18.3% of girls and 4.7% of boys in Pakistan are married before their 18th birthday. Child marriages are equally arduous for both men and women. The girl is burdened with household responsibilities, and the boy is forced to earn for his family. Such responsibilities lead to deprivation of education due to inadequate time. This tradition perpetuates a cycle of uneducated parents, contributing to a vicious spiral that may exacerbate the risk of child abuse.

There is also the issue of child abandonment. Infants are recovered from trash sites and alleyways. These children are mostly those born out of wedlock or girls because of the social stigma that having a male heir is better. This has become such a prevalent issue that approximately 300 cradles have been set up around Pakistan's cities as a place to leave unwanted infants instead of in trash sites. 

In Pakistan, there are too many children during their growing stages who are criticized, humiliated, rejected, and subjected to violent crimes. All the aforementioned forms of child abuse irrevocably disturb the emotional well-being of a child. During their formative years, children should have the opportunity to play and learn; however, they are often deprived of these experiences and are instead exploited. These malicious atrocities committed against the children of my country have destroyed the futures of millions of people, as they have been scarred for the rest of their lives. 

What can be done about this dire situation? Criticizing such acts that give rise to violence is the least we can do. Spreading awareness about child protection rights can play a pivotal role in mitigating such blatant crimes. By garnering the attention of International NGOs we can play an avid role in controlling such heinous acts. Considering all of this, international pressure and persuasion could do wonders in brightening the future of millions of helpless children in Pakistan. Therefore, I implore the VoiceBox community to aid me in this endeavor to eradicate or at least minimize this heinous practice in Pakistan which is a blatant violation of human rights.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

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