Out of the Shadow Index 2022 (OOSI22) has ranked Pakistan 51 out of 60 countries in Child Sexual Exploitation and abuse perspective. OOSI 22, Central Asia Report was launched in Islamabad by a Pakistan based NGO, Good Thinkers Organization. During the launching ceremony, Waqas Abid Advocate President of Good Thinkers Organization expressed that Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA) is a global epidemic happening in every country around the world with widespread consequences not only for individuals, but for societies at large. These terrible consequences hinder progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly goals 3, 4, 5 and 16.
As we grow closer to 2030, there is still a significant opportunity to redouble efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, but without urgency to CSEA issues from National Governments to Provinces, we run the risk of failing to meet these goals and leaving millions of children and young people vulnerable to the effects of CSEA. The Out of the Shadows Index (OOSI) is the first global assessment of how countries are addressing CSEA. The 2022 report benchmarks how 60 countries, (home to approximately 85% of the global population of children) are preventing and responding to CSEA. Unlike any other research, the OOSI shines a spotlight on the CSEA “governance architecture” – the national systems in place to address the complex issue of CSEA in its two core dimensions: prevention and response.
The 2022 report of OOSI reveals that many governments are failing to create the policies needed to prevent and respond to CSEA. Fewer than half of the countries indexed are considered to have a strategy to end CSEA. However, we’re getting better at how we understand CSEA issues through data. 15 years ago, there was little to no data on the prevalence of CSEA. Today, almost three-quarters of countries (73%) collect and publish data on the number of recorded and reported cases of CSEA.
OOSI-2022 shows that income alone is not a strong determinant of a country’s ability to successfully prevent and respond to CSEA. Three of the top ten countries-South Africa, Indonesia and Turkey-are middle-income economies and 55% of the top 20 countries are non-high income. While sharing statistics of Pakistan, Waqas Abid further added that, in the year of 2022, January to June, SAHIL NGO data reveals that 1,207 girls and 1,004 boys are victims of sexual exploitation. This year reported cases under major categories are abduction 803, rape 243, sodomy 298, gang-rape 41 and gang sodomy 87.
As many as 17 boys and 13 girls have been murdered after committing sexual abuse. There are more horrible incidents in which 2 boys and a girl were murdered after gang sodomy and rape, and 212 children were found missing. There are 17 cases of early child marriage and 3 Vani cases. Holistic prevention and response systems are necessary to eliminate sexual violence against children. Civil society organizations, media, citizens and governance institutions are needed to take joint efforts to make sure legislative reforms at provincial level in Pakistan to eliminate Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse to sustainably tackle these issues. Waqas Abid Advocate appealed to Civil Society Organizations, Donors, International Community and local authorities to increase resource allocation for children in Pakistan.
Mr. Saad Waseem MNA, Parliamentary Secretary also gave his full commitment for legislative reforms, new laws and making sure implementation on existing laws to protect children from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation. On behalf of Provincial Assembly Punjab, Anayat Ullah Lak shared that the provincial government has zero tolerance for children-related issues. Provincial Assembly Punjab always welcomes positive legislative development, especially in Child Rights Perspective. Mr. Ahmar Majeed Advocate presented a comprehensive analysis of existing laws, related to children and shared gaps. He urged that these gaps need to be covered through legislative amendment.