Pedophilia – An Obfuscated Reality
Outrage against pedophilia is not new. By turning the pages of history it is evident that in the classical Greece hierarchical society, sexual relations between an adult man and a boy were seen as contributing to the boy’s education. However, many didn’t like it even then.
Between the years of 1830 and 1890, 2/3rd of all documented sexual offences in London had children as victims. Societal stigma upon its discussion vanished for the first time in 1885 when sexual abuse of children was made a topic of “public discussion” by the British newspaper “Pall Mall Gazette”.
New moral panic raised around the globe in 1970’s to 1990’s when revelations of existence of child pornography i.e. child sex abuse imagery as well as pedophilic chat groups on internet ashamed the world.
The international community joined hands and drafted laws to stop this horrendous act.
United Nation Convention on the Rights of child (CRC) is an International Treaty that legally binds nations to protect children’s rights.
Article 34 of the Convention deals with sexual exploitation and it states that “Government should protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse.
Article 36 of the Convention deals with other forms of exploitation and it states that “Children should be protected from any activity that takes advantages of them or could harm their welfare”.
Article 2 of the ‘Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography prohibits sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
Different legislation drafted by different countries around the globe on the said issue:
U.K. rewrote its criminal code in the ‘Sexual Offences Act 2003’. This Act includes definitions and penalties for child sexual abuse.
Even our neighboring country India had passed an Act in 2012 ‘Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act, 2012′ related to child sexual abuse.
Pakistan along with 195 nations ratified Convention on Rights of the Child on 12th of November 1990 but no proper legislation contributed to curb this evil so far.
Local laws which deal with this issue are not applied in letter and spirit. They are highlighted in Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) 1860. Section 367 A states that kidnapping or abducting in order to subject person to unnatural lust, and the punishment is death or rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 25 years and shall also be liable to fine. Section 377 of PPC states that whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man , woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life imprisonment not less than 2 years not more than 10 years and shall be liable to fine.
One and a half year ago in February Marvi Memon and Laila Khan tabled a Bill to criminalize child pornography but this issue failed to grasp the attention. Again on 25th of April 2015 the same Bill was tabled this time not by any private member but by our law minister Pervaiz Rasheed and to our dismay the issue again was not considered as important. There is no legislation in Pakistan against child pornography so it’s not a crime. This makes our lawmakers culprits of the said offence. How can the courts take action against the said perpetrators if their ‘inhumane action’ is not recognized as a crime in the eyes of law?
Child abuse in Pakistan takes place in various locations such as in houses, schools, mosques.
According to the report of Sahil, an Islamabad based NGO, 2303, 3861, 3002, 2508 incidents of child abuse took place in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 respectively. According to Sahil’s annual publication report named “Cruel Numbers” in Pakistan children less than 18 years of age are falling prey to child sexual abuse at the ratio of 8 children per day. Age group (11-15) years are most vulnerable, next (6-10) years, than (1-5) years.
We are familiar with the term extortion which means the crime of obtaining money or illegal exaction, by use of one’s office or authority.
Extortion is also related to sex-related crimes which is sextortion. Sextortion is a serious crime that occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you don’t provide them images of sexual nature, or we can say it’s a blackmailing for sexual favour. The culprits of recent incident of Kasur- Hussain Khanawal were charged under extortion as well.
The psychological effects on children who fall prey to sexual abuse in childhood vary a lot. According to medical studies, survivors of childhood abuse might experience uncharacteristic feelings of stress, fear, depression, anxiety disorder, suicidal behavior, powerlessness, shame, betrayal and mistrust for adults.
Let’s medically examine pedophilic behavior. Pedophilia can be attributed to both biological and environmental factors. There are certain structural abnormalities in the brains of pedophiles. Abnormalities occur when the brain is developing and can be on-set through certain experience such as sexual abuse as a child. Researches on the brains of pedophiles revealed that pedophiles exhibit decreased volume of grey brain matter in the central straitum as a result certain areas of the brain which play an important role in addictive behavior are affected. So, the pedophiles tend to act inappropriately and exhibit poor judgment because they lack the ability to control their impulses. Psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy is required to uproot this disorder as well.
Besides protests and condemnations against this act, the more important thing is to eradicate this evil from the roots of the society. Can sexual education contribute to eradicate it?
According to WHO sex education should be imparted to children who are 12 years and above, so that individuals are well informed about sex, sexual practices, child sexual abuse and sexually transmitted diseases. The advantages of sex education are that it dispels myths related to sex and broadens their horizons; children can easily understand bodily changes at the age of puberty. Sex education would curb the abuse by making children aware of the difference between good and bad touch.
Along with sex education, social acceptability of the victim is required. According to a report by Sahil, from 2007-2011, 10,700 cases of child sexual abuse were reported excluding the unreported cases. Most children and families do not report cases of abuse and exploitation because of the stigma, fear and lack of trust in the authorities but this silence would amount to the acceptance of this grave crime.
It’s the need of the hour to come out of this societal pressure. Prevention begins at home so parents and guardians should make their children aware of what is sexual abuse and molestation, etc as being a victim of child abuse should not be a stigma.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization with which she might be associated.