According to a humanitarian organisation, sexual assault affected 12 children each day, or one every two hours, in Pakistan in 2023. The Islamabad-based NGO Sahil’s half-yearly report, 2,227 cases of child sexual abuse were reported to authorities between January and June of this year.
The NGO, which has been in operation since 1996, gathers its statistics from newspaper articles as well as directly reported cases. In 2023, there were 1,207 girls and 1,020 boys, according to Aljazeera.
According to Imtiaz Ahmad Soomrah, the national legal aid coordinator for Sahil, the majority of the abuse cases involved minors aged six to fifteen.
“Over 47 percent of cases were reported between this age group, and more boys (593) were reported to be sexually abused than girls (457),” he stated. According to the NGO’s research, 912 of the almost 2,200 instances they reported this year included acquaintances of the kid victim.
According to the Sahil research, about 75% of these instances originated in Punjab, the country’s most populous province.
In the first six months of 2023, the southern Sindh province in Pakistan reported 314 cases of child sexual abuse, while the federal region of the national capital Islamabad had 161 cases.
According to Soomrah, the fact that Punjab has the most incidents is due to superior policing and reporting processes in the province.
“While there is no doubt that Punjab remains the most affected province, it is also a fact that we are able to know their figures due to efficient reporting mechanisms in place,” he explained.
Soomrah bemoaned the paucity of such information from Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan, the country’s largest and poorest. “Balochistan had a total of only 24 cases reported in the entire province, which is quite unbelievable,” he explained.
Soomrah attributed the dearth of convictions in child sexual abuse cases on a poor legal system and a societal practise of settling the problem out of court.
“Our legal system allows these heinous crimes to go unpunished for years.” “The conviction rate in Pakistan cases of child sexual abuse is less than 2%, and the majority of these cases, which do go through legal processes, are settled through compromise between the two parties,” he stated.
According to the Islamabad-based lawyer, this is owing to social and economic demands on the victims’ families, as well as the stigma connected with sexual assault.
According to Muhammad Arif Leghari, a top official in Pakistan’s human rights ministry, the government is working on stronger systems to safeguard minors from sexual abuse.
“People complain about how slow our [legal] system is, but it must be understood that we must fulfil our constitutional and judicial obligations.” Courts must go through the process in detail, hearing arguments from both parties and allowing time for procedures to be completed so that no one can argue that the law was violated,” he explained.
Child Abuse and Human Trafficking in Thailand
In Thailand’s major tourist cities, where prostitution is permitted, the sex trade is common. The sexual exploitation of children, on the other hand, is illegal and widespread.
In many cases, drivers pick up groups of victims, mainly teenage girls from communities in northern Thailand, to sell as sex slaves. Local gangs and foreign mafias recruit vulnerable men, women, and children for local and international prostitution.
As Thailand’s urbanisation grows, so does the demand for cheap labour and, by implication, human trafficking.
Migrants are smuggled into Thailand to work for meagre pay in the seafood, construction, or textile industries. Trafficked labourers face low working conditions and pay, which fuel the fishing industry in particular.
Human trafficking criminal organisations in Thailand are believed to be involved in a variety of other forms of organised crime, including money laundering, drug trafficking, and animal trafficking, all of which utilise the same infrastructure as human trafficking.
Thai authorities have had some success in preventing human trafficking through anti-money laundering operations after identifying these links.
Many of the more developed Western countries use Thailand as a transit zone for sex trafficking and forced labour. Bangkok’s congested city is a frequent transit hub for traffickers.
The region known as “The Golden Triangle,” which connects Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos, is a centre for illegal border trade, including human trafficking. Traffickers take their victims using established migration routes via Thailand’s lengthy and porous borders or by sea.
They exploit fishing ports and sea passageways that Thai authorities find difficult to monitor, with the help of coastal and border communities and corrupt officials.
In Thailand, social media platforms and online chat rooms have developed as important recruitment hubs for human trafficking. The internet provides traffickers with rapid access to thousands of vulnerable victims who are yearning to make a better living and escape poverty.
These folks are duped into believing false promises of employment and are subsequently cruelly exploited. Games and ostensibly entertaining websites are used to target younger victims, who are then enticed or blackmailed into performing sex activities.