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Child sex abuse — reframing the narrative

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Chris Cork is a UK qualified social worker where he worked in child protection, and has continued to promote child protection in Pakistan

The rape and murder of another child in Kasur has prompted a range of ill-informed or misinformed responses from both print and electronic media platforms, and politicians. Self-appointed ‘experts’ with little or no experience of how to handle such a case, get airtime and column space, but there is little anywhere about what should be done beyond catch the man responsible and then lynch him. Countering violence with yet more violence is no solution. Suddenly there are dozens of child protection specialists: politicians, media anchors, citizens, actors, lawyers, anybody who chooses to connect with the unbearable pain that the child victim’s parents are going through. Sadly, ethical guidelines have vanished into thin air.

Whilst this sympathy is natural, it is also dangerous if not tempered by reason and objective information. Some things have been changing almost unnoticed. For instance, there is a developing climate of disclosure in Pakistan in which children are more comfortable with telling parents or caregivers that they have been inappropriately touched, but disclosure is of little value if those to whom the disclosure is made are unable to respond to it. Parental and caregiver awareness needs to be universally raised and that can be done via a cooperative intervention by a coordinated group comprising civil society actors, NGOs and INGOs, agencies and existing government bodies. There are child protection offices staffed by qualified social workers in Punjab. The model could be replicated nationally.

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© The Express Tribune