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How to prevent child abuse?

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FOR five months, the country’s leading psychiatrists have been knocking at the doors of authority to take concrete steps to prevent the rape and murder of small children, instead of treating these incidents as law and order cases only. So far it has been in vain.

The campaign started when the Pakistan Association for Mental Health (PAMH), a body well known for its service to public causes, decided to concentrate on the sexual abuse of children while observing World Mental Health Day last October. WHO had chosen ‘young people and mental health in a changing world’ as the theme for the annual day in 2018.

The reason for the PAMH decision was that for nine months the whole nation had been gripped by anger and shame at the abduction, rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab in Kasur. The case had been making headlines almost every day. The culprit, who had raped and killed several other little girls, was going to be hanged within a few days. The entire country was calling for the protection of small children.

Members of the PAMH were also alarmed at the fact that the storm generated by the Zainab case had not led to any abatement of child abuse incidents. Sahil, an NGO specialising in this field, had said that 2,332 cases had been reported during the first half of 2018 in Punjab alone, that more than 12 children were abused every day, and that the End of Childhood Index ranked Pakistan at number 149 out of 174 countries.

Efforts to convince the government to focus on child sexual abuse have so far been in........

© Dawn