At least 136 women were kidnapped and 71 raped while 114 cases of sexual abuse of children were reported in the month of August across Pakistan, according to a report.
The report, researched by the Sustainable Social Development Organisation (SSDO) and the Centre for Research, Development and Communication (CRDC), suggested that kidnapping and physical assault of women, domestic violence and sexual abuse of children were the most reported cases in the country’s mainstream media last month.
For the fourth month in a row, kidnapping of women was the most heavily reported in the media, with a total of 136 cases, almost similar to July’s tally of 133.
As many as 80 of these cases were reported in Punjab alone while Sindh had 31 cases. 11, 8 and 6 cases were reported in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Islamabad and Balochistan respectively.
Over 87 cases of physical assault on women were reported, which was a significantly major decrease from the previous month. 52 cases were reported in Punjab, 20 cases were reported in Sindh, followed by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with 13 cases, and only two cases were reported from Balochistan.
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Similar numbers were seen in domestic violence cases, with 83 cases, down from 94 last month. Half of the cases were reported from Punjab (42). Looking at the other provinces, K-P and Sindh reported 17 and 13 cases respectively, while Balochistan and Islamabad reported 6 and 5 respectively.
71 cases of rape and sexual abuse of women were reported throughout the country in the month of August, a decrease from 85 cases reported in July. 41 cases were in Punjab, then Sindh and K-P reported somewhat similar numbers with 12 and 10 cases respectively, followed by 6 in Balochistan and the lowest in Islamabad (2).
20 women were murdered in the month of August, and 80% of them (16 cases) were reported from the province of Punjab, and 2 cases in each of Sindh and K-P. 11 women were also killed in the name of "honour", an increase from 7 cases last month. 6 of these cases took place in the province of Punjab, followed by 4 in K-P and 1 in Sindh. Additionally, there were 3 cases of cyber harassment and 2 cases of forced marriage, all in Punjab.
Amongst all indicators of violence against children, the highest prevalence was of sexual abuse, where a total of 114 cases were reported across the country, with Punjab leading with 48 cases reported, followed by 27 in K-P and 20 in Sindh. The lowest frequencies were reported in Islamabad (13) and Balochistan (6).
Just as with women, kidnapping of children saw a significant number of cases reported in the media, with 58 children kidnapped across Pakistan though it was a decrease from 82 last month. 22 of the cases were reported from Punjab, 16 from K-P, 11 from Sindh, 5 from Islamabad and 4 from Balochistan.
20 children were subjected to physical abuse in the month of August, which was markedly lower than 37 cases that were reported in July. Again, more than half of all cases occurred in Punjab, which had 12 cases, while the three other provinces: Sindh, K-P and Balochistan, as well as the federal capital, had 2 cases each.
17 children were also murdered across the country in the month of August, a decrease from 22 cases last month. 11 of these were reported from Punjab, while Sindh, Balochistan and K-P reported 3, 2 and 1.
There were 9 cases of child marriage reported in the news. 5 of these occurred in Punjab, 3 in K-P and 1 in Sindh. Likewise, 9 cases of child labour were recorded in the month of August, 8 from Punjab and one from Islamabad. Finally, there were 2 cases of psychological abuse of children, both from Punjab. No cases were reported in the media of trafficking of women, children or psychological abuse of women.
Additionally, in terms of media sensitivity and protecting the victim’s identity, the media did play a positive role with the fact that the picture is rarely shared. However, unfortunately, in majority of the cases, the name of the victim was shared, which could lead to social stigma and further abuse.
Syed Kausar Abbas, Executive Director, SSDO stated: “This month, we have provided a more comprehensive breakdown with the data by giving deeper analysis into the causes and manifestations of violence, as well as their profile such as age and work status. We also did some research into the role of media in ensuring that the identity of victims is protected. We hope that this can serve as a reference for media, civil society, legislators and all stakeholders for future action.”
SSDO and CRDC conducted daily tracking of 13 mainstream newspapers, both Urdu and English, against 19 indicators of violence against women and children. The selection criteria of the newspapers was based on being the most famous, accessible and most-read newspapers in Pakistan. This data is published every month on their official websites, while both organisations also publish a consolidated report annually.