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Last Updated: Friday, 18 January 2008, 10:39 GMT
Child abuse 'growing' in Pakistan
By M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, Karachi

Poor children in Pakistan
The report says the law enforcers do not care about children
Children in Pakistan are increasingly exposed to abuse, kidnapping and violence, according to a new report by a human rights organisation.

The number of reported cases involving children has more than doubled from 617 in 2006 to 1,595 last year, it says.

Poor law enforcement and old social attitudes towards children's rights are some of the reasons to blame, it adds.

Pakistan remains a major conduit for the trafficking of children from South Asia to the Middle East and Europe.

Not enforced

"Children, like women, continue to be vulnerable because they are considered personal property in our feudal-minded society," says Zia Awan, chief of Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA).

The organisation monitors and compiles cases of child abuse and kidnapping with funding from the UK-based NGO, Save the Children.

Mr Awan says a major reason for the increase in the incidents of child abuse is the fact that the issue does not figure on the agenda of the law enforcers.

Pakistani children
Children and women continue to be vulnerable in Pakistan

"There are laws to deal with this problem, but they are not enforced. This encourages the perpetrators of these crimes."

The actual number of incidents of violence against children may run into several thousand each year, he says.

The figures in the LHRLA report are based on newspaper reports which, in turn, originate from police reports, he says.

"These are only the tip of the iceberg. More than 80% of the cases go unreported," he says.

Because of official apathy, parents of kidnapped children prefer to bargain with the kidnappers instead of going to the police.

Also, reporting child sexual abuse to the police remains a taboo in large parts of the country.

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