Unspoken Epidemic of Child Abuse — Prevention and Awareness

Child sexual abuse has become a part of the subculture of Gilgit-Baltistan society

Kainat Habib
By Kainat Habib 6 Min Read
Child abuse in Pakistan

It’s important to note that no matter what someone does or says, no one deserves to be sexually, verbally, or physically abused. Sadly, victim-blaming is a common tactic used to control the victim and absolve the abuser of responsibility. For example, someone might say “She must have provoked him into being abusive,” implying that the victim’s actions or behavior caused the abuse. This type of thinking is not only untrue, but it also perpetuates harmful societal attitudes that allow abuse to continue.

Pakistan’s social superstructure is dense with patriarchal symbolism; misogyny seems, by all accounts, to be one of our core values, prevailing across every single social institution, so constant that it is not even noticed. Pakistani women have been entangled in a gender terrorism pandemic that has created too many victims. More women lose their lives from acid attacks to honor killings by close family members. Pakistani women have seen everything.

Pakistan’s social superstructure is dense with patriarchal symbolism, and misogyny seems to be one of our core values.

Child sexual abuse has become a part of the subculture of Gilgit-Baltistan society and is occurring even in the remotest parts of the Northern area. Since society is affected by false consciousness and values, its members are trying to claim ignorance that such evil exists inside. There is a typical inclination to credit the predominance of child abuse to the breaking down of organic communities and the rise of urbanization, where individuals from disparate backgrounds occupy the same space without a common glue to gel them together for healthy interaction. There may be an element of truth in it, but child sexual abuse is happening even in the remotest parts of rural areas in Gilgit-Baltistan.

The aforementioned activities and practices in the subculture of sexual abuse in Gilgit-Baltistan are carried out in spaces like markets, hotels, streets, workshops, schools, barren lands, mountains, forests, and fields. Even some places have become synonyms for dens of sexual abuse. All the evil acts of sexual abuse of children by menfolk slip through the cracks of women since it is a social horror for women to visit such places.

In the second week of November 2018, newspapers reported three cases of child abuse. Out of these, two cases were reported from villages. The reported cases are small when compared to the actual occurrences of child sexual abuse. So it can be said that the malaise of child sexual abuse is well-established inside the culture of Gilgit-Baltistan. If we dig deep into the cultural practices, dismantle the language, and dive deep into the archaeology of cultural practices, we find a pattern of behavior among a certain section of males who are engaged in pedophilia, molestation, and sodomy.

Victim-blaming is a common tactic used to control the victim and absolve the abuser of responsibility.

The patriarchal society of Gilgit-Baltistan considers an abuser an idol while the victim is shunned as the person who has lost their dignity. Therefore, the victim remains condemned for abusive treatment from society throughout their life. For an ordinary woman at home, her husband, uncle, brother, and son are saints. The pedophile pretends to be a saint at home, where they impose their authority on their family, and on the other hand, they sexually assault children. Contemporarily, rape culture is so embedded in our community that we are ignoring it as a social evil. Its implications are innumerable and need to be discussed publicly.

As a community, we have the opportunity every day to examine our actions and beliefs for biases that allow rape culture to continue. We can all take action to stand against rape culture by following the following guidelines:

Speak out against the root causes

When discussing cases of sexual violence, it is important to recognize that a victim’s sobriety, clothing, and sexuality are irrelevant. Instead, counter the idea that men and boys must obtain power through violence and question the notion of sex as an entitlement.

Stop victim-blaming

Rape-affirming beliefs are often embedded in our language, such as saying “She was dressed like a slut. She was asking for it.” We must avoid such language and instead support survivors.

Have zero tolerance. Stakeholders must be particularly clear that they are committed to upholding a zero-tolerance policy and that it must be practiced every day.

Invest in women

Empower women, amplify their voices, support survivors, and promote acceptance of all gender identities and sexualities.

Listen to survivors

If someone shares their trauma with you, avoid judging them. Try to encourage them to amplify their voices and support them in any way you can.

Get involved

Rape culture is often perpetuated by the absence or lack of enforcement of laws addressing violence against women and discriminatory laws. You can get involved by supporting organizations that work towards protecting children’s rights or by reporting abuse to the appropriate authorities.

End impunity

To end rape culture, perpetrators must be held accountable. By prosecuting sexual violence cases, we recognize these acts as crimes and send a strong message of zero tolerance. Wherever you see pushback against legal consequences for perpetrators, fight for justice and accountability.

Be an active bystander

Violence against women is shockingly common, and we may become witnesses to non-consensual or violent behavior. Intervening as an active bystander signals to the perpetrator that their behavior is unacceptable and may help someone stay safe.

Educate the next generation

It is in our hands to secure the future generation. Today, it is crucial for us to challenge the gender stereotypes and violent ideals that children encounter in the media, on the streets, and at school. Let your children know that your family is a safe space for them to express themselves as they are. Affirm their choices and teach them the importance of consent at a young age.

Unfortunately, in our community, all pedophiles are held in higher positions. It is the darkest secret of our community, and it is more heart-wrenching that people who have witnessed these incidents still ignore such evils. When different NGOs can work for child development, then why not for child rights and their protection? We, as a community, plead to local government officials to hold those abusers accountable openly. They deserve strict punishment, and this time it won’t work if they attempt to hide their heinous activities. Parents need to make sure their daughters are safe at school and on the street. Their protection will start at home.

Given the gravity of the situation, we urgently need to decide whether we will protect the prestige of the community or the lives of hundreds of vulnerable children under the leadership of these child abusers. Nonetheless, the existing institutional arrangements, social structure, and cultural values will never end this impunity in Gilgit Baltistan.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in articles and blogs on Aware Pakistan are solely those of the authors and do not represent the official stance of the website. We are not liable for the accuracy of information provided by authors.

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *