Are we purposely ignoring child sexual abuse in Pakistan (and our homes)?

Published: November 28, 2015

More boys go out of home to play in the streets and are easily trapped. PHOTO: ENCA

The Pakistani media’s convincing rhetoric regarding the term sexual abuse and heart wrenching words such as ‘rape’ and ‘molestation’ have rightly highlighted the unjust practices that continue to affect our society. However, at times (or always) the hidden truth remains buried in the ground and the untold stories of millions are seldom brought to light.

How many of you had the slightest idea that your helpless seven-year-old son, who wholeheartedly recited the Holy Quran alongside his so-called honest and unadulterated qaari sahib, was being sexually abused continuously in a barricaded room? We enjoy labelling ourselves as humble and modest beings when in truth we are the ones perpetuating brutality to its core.

I came across many cases that involved such immoral and repulsive acts of violence, especially in Pakistan where everything seems black and white, having no middle ground whatsoever. A recent report summarised the sexual abuse rate of young boys doubling this year in comparison with girls of the same age (between six to 10 years). The ratio of boys to girls was 178 to 152, highlighting an increase in the sexual abuse rate against children this year.

Mumtaz Gohar, a spokesperson for Sahil, an organisation that works exclusively on the issue of child sexual abuse and exploitation, stated,

“The reason for this is that more boys go out of (their) home(s) to play in the streets and are easily trapped.”

But sadly, there are no laws to safeguard the dignity of these young boys because, at most times, girls are the ones glorified as the only victims of sexual abuse.

This year, a six-year-old boy was raped and killed by a man in Lahore at a mosque near Green Town. Similarly in Multan, a Pakistani teenager was kidnapped and assaulted multiple times. Shortly after, the young lad committed suicide when the police refused to file a report and indirectly taunted him.

Even then, our media is busy reporting stories of women being abandoned by their husbands. Is that the only thing that really matters? Do our stories simply end there?

Where are the unheard voices of those young, innocent boys who hadn’t even reached puberty and were molested by middle-aged men? Does their story belong in the trash can? Yes, they are young and susceptible but these core social concerns will not come to light if we persistently ignore them.

I, for one, believe that Pakistan’s definition of violence simply revolves around women. Perhaps, we’ve accustomed ourselves with the notion that women are the sole victims of sexual abuse. However, the current child abuse rate in Pakistan is rapidly progressing and very few policies (or none at all) have been implemented to safeguard the dignity of thousands of children subject to sexual abuse.

As an individual, I strongly believe that prior to employing a housekeeper or a home tutor, parents ought to consider alternative options. Instead of hiring a teacher, why not preach the Holy Quran to your child yourself? Does it really have to be a well-read Muslim tutor to inculcate the fundamentals of Islam to your child? What is unfortunate is that we are more likely to conform to these self-constructed norms when in truth it’s all about breaking the social barriers to get the truth out.

Maybe Pakistan is not ready to discuss child abuse as a topic for a news program, especially when young boys are abused by the same gender. We are not at all prude when it comes to discussing women being raped, so why have objections over other important matters?

I am not saying that men are solely responsible for such abhorrent practices, but I am accusing those ignorant, prude and hypocritical Pakistanis who completely neglect the fact that, by and large, a boy can also be abused by a man. It all boils down to one, hot-headed question – are we really capable of discussing such bold matters or is that against our Islamic fundamentals?

As a Pakistani, I strongly encourage parents to be more vigilant and protective about their children’s future. It only takes a second to destroy a life, but with parents united on the matter of child abuse, millions of lives can be protected for a brighter future.

Haider Rifaat

Haider Rifaat

The author is a model, actor, talk show host and writer for fashion magazines OK! Pakistan and Good Times. He is a columnist and writer for Express Tribune, Daily Times and Pakistan Observer. He is currently the creator and host of Pakistan's first ever web talk show on YouTube titled 'The Haider Rifaat Show' and is set to make his film debut in '24 Hours'. He tweets @HaiderRifaat (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • whatever

    no pakistanis do not ignore these but now a days so much happening in India that they are not able to focus on their own homeRecommend

  • Asad Lashari

    we are so called muslim don’t know how to preach the Quran that’s why hiring a Qaari is a common trend in Pakistan.Recommend

  • ارشد حسین

    We are not ignoring it. But ET and other media is raising it.Recommend

  • ارشد حسین

    I am not denying you but major sexual abuse centers are Schools these day.Recommend

  • Frank Mossman

    Human sexuality is the same for Muslims, Hindus, Jews & Christians. It is a fact of life that if social & biological intercourse between men and women is impeded then humans will resort to alternatives. The easiest alternatives are to prey on the weak, the young and the poor.Recommend

  • SuperbMan

    I believe every girl and boy is sexually abused, when not properly monitered and taken care by parents, Major culprits are Father but Mother mostly as being home and negligant, then Male Gabro maid at home who is always priviliged because of unknown reason can freely interact with kids and go inside room whenever wants without any check and balance, then tutor, Qari, Neighborer, Cousins of older age.

    So only education need is that there is no brother sister father mother except real one… Will keep them away from monsters and liftime pshycological disordersRecommend


    “watever” helps you get through the day & thanks for diverting focus from the horrific subject.Recommend

  • Yusranam

    Violence is violence either on boys or girls but the thing is how we take it and step forward at least to lessen the outcomes. Several of the reasons could be counted here behind this typical molestation and sexual abuse. I, myself, am an eyewitness but who cares.Nobody believed not even my huby and I had to broken up my relationship for that because i didn’t want to be the victim.Its not just about causes that affect,it’s the consequences and barriers too that speaks itself as to why shouldn’t we brake up our silence.Sometimes the victims do that and sometimes we, ourselves for the sake of shame and the end result.Recommend

  • Technical Difficulties

    You really didn’t have to put up a cartoon to illustrate your point. We all understand what sexual abuse is. Thank you for ruining cartoons and comics for the rest of my life. Recommend

  • Technical Difficulties

    Yes how typical of Pakistanis to focus more on India than their own country. Keep it up btw. When Modi leaves in 5 years, He will be a true hero of India and humanity. And no hero is complete without his/her arch-nemesis.Recommend

  • raj

    The problem here is how do you define “Child Abuse” and where is the boundary ? Few would say a father kissing his kids is abuse (which could just be an affection). If Father’s affection is child abuse then mother’s touch is also child abuse. Should we just stop them from doing it. Yes, neighbours, cousins and others should not be allowed to touch but a lot of times, in Pakistan, people show affection by touching kids and may be the intention is not there of an abuse. So the problem with the society is how you define child abuse.Recommend

  • asad

    It is easy to sit behind a screen and write a brave comment. Most of the victims at their premature age are not clear about their personal boundaries mainly because in our society parents do not feel comfortable talking about this matterRecommend


    “watever” helps you get through the day & thanks for diverting focus from the horrific subject.Recommend

  • Abdullah Bin Shahid

    You’re right! There are stories that remain untold! People think looking very nice with face is nice too from in. I used to hate bearded ones at times.Recommend

  • Abdullah Bin Shahid

    you don’t. You never will. Unless you have been through it.Recommend