A joint venture of DAC and US Embassy, implemented in two settled districts of Kohat and Swabi and two tribal districts of Khyber and Muhmand. Women village Councilors, school teachers and children and local notables were the target groups. TV and radio programs were telecasted on the subject.
In Pakistan, 22,528 children were reportedly assaulted in the last seven years. The cases are on the rise as in 2010, 2,252 incidents were reported, and in 2016, 4,139 cases of child sexual abuse were reported. The unreported cases are estimated to be ten times higher than the reported figures with a visible continuous increase on a daily basis.Child protection cases remain un/under-reported due to ignorance to legal remedies and forums; general distrust in the legal and justice system, and the stigma attached to the profiling of such cases.
Given that the Social Welfare Department (SWD) is mandated to support the eradication of social evils - one of which is child abuse - these gruesome statistics reveal that the progress on curbing child abuse is too slow. The reasons being fragmented, ad-hoc structures and limited capacities of the Govt of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Besides, child protection is a cross-sectoral subject, which requires a clear distinction of boundaries between SWD and other departments such as Health, Education, Local Government, Labor, Home, Police and Judiciary.
Being mindful of these two major issues at the government level, this project aims to tackle the issue of child abuse from two levels: a) awareness training of head teachers of girls schools and women village councilors, b) Conducting Policy workshops at high level with relevant government agencies from KP and FATA to share the outcomes of the porject activities and build support for rollout.
Child protection cases remain un/under-reported due to general distrust in the legal and justice system and the stigma attached to the profiling of such cases. The reason of unreported cases of child sexual abuse are: non-cooperative attitude of police; complex, expensive and lethargic legal justice system; disclosure of sexual abuse being a social taboo; ignorance to legal remedies and forums; illiteracy & wide spread poverty. In girls, the disclosure of sexual assaults means stigmatizing & ruining their future. Children from low-income families, particularly rural areas are vulnerable when their parents are often away from home, work abroad or work in fields. Sometimes children are raped and brutally murdered for fear of identification of the culprits. The brutal rape and murder of a four-year old girl Asma in district Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and seven-year old girl Zainab in district Qasur, Punjab are examples of barbarous crimes committed recently.
To support the Government of KP in building the capacities of major stakeholders the project aims to train the major stakeholders -women village councilors (whose job is to resolve social issues to develop a stronger community), and head teachers of Government Girls schools (who are in contact with the female students on daily basis and whom are reverred and idolized by the students). After being sensitized in relvant rules the councillors and HTs will spread the message to the people in their community/schools. An informed and awared community will be in a better position to thwart such evils and if God forbid any incident happens they will be aware of legal remedies available to combat child abuse. Besides, the outcomes of this first-ever project that involves multi-sector stakeholders will be shared with the GoKP and FATA to replicate the model for sustainable awareness and mitigation.