Monday, February 27, was a day of immense shock for Faiza’s family. Five-year-old Faiza, who had gone missing the night before, was found in bushes in Gulzar-e-Hijri – tortured, raped and dead. On Wednesday her family, along with several sympathizers from their neighbourhood, gathered outside the Mobina Town police station. They demanded a prompt investigation and protested against the fact that no FIR had been registered when the girl had gone missing.
Faiza’s gruesome death is the third child rape case that has been reported this week; it was preceded by the death of Saima, another five-year old, and a nine-year-old boy from Lines Area. Roshni Helpline, an NGO which deals with cases of missing children, reported a similar case of a five-year old girl, Rehana Manzoor, from Mobina Town, who was tortured and raped. Her body was found on Sharea Faisal.
What makes these cases even more horrific is the condition in which the victims were found. President Roshni Helpline Mohammad Ali claims that Saima’s medico-legal reports revealed that she had been “kept hungry for three days, after which she was gang-raped, tortured and then killed”.
On December 13, 2011, the kidnapping of six-year-old Alishba was widely reported in the media. Two days later, on December 15, her body was discovered. She had been gang-raped and brutally tortured. One of her eyes had been gouged out.
The police conducted a raid on December 21, during which they arrested three men. All three of them admitted to being involved in Alishba’s murder. The men also had with them a nine-year-old girl, whom they had kidnapped by offering sweets.
On December 16, just a day after the city was still reeling from the news of Alishba’s death, the body of a 12-year-old boy was found in Steel Town. A medico-legal officer (MLO) at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre confirmed that the boy had been sodomised and then strangulated.
The latest figures from War Against Rape (WAR) reveal that in 2011, 66 percent of the cases investigated by the NGO involved children under the age of 18, the youngest victim being just three years old. Six rape cases had resulted in death. The youngest victim was five years old.
An informed source in the police department, who has been dealing with rape cases for the past 13 years, claims that the number of incidents of children being victimised by sexual predators has not risen and has, in fact, stayed about the same. “The only difference now is that it is being reported in the media more often.”
She reveals that most victims who come to her for examination are from the lower socio-economic stratum, and are often accompanied by their mothers, who, more often than not, do not know the whereabouts of their child during the time of crime.
“Negligence, exacerbated by poverty, is the main reason such events occur. The parents are either at work or have too many children to give each child individual attention.”
“For every two cases of rape, there is one case of sodomy in children,” she says. The injuries are mainly to the genitals and hands of the victim, she explains. “While the child is being held down forcibly.”
The average age of rape victims that she deals with is 10. She says that, in some cases, the injuries severely damage the private parts of these young girls.
She shares a particularly serious case brought to her in October this year, that of a five- year-old girl who was bleeding so profusely that “she had to be rushed to the operation theatre, given anesthesia and sown up with eighteen stitches”.
But she believes the physical injuries are only part of the damage; there are also severe psychological scars left behind by such incidents. “The victims are disturbed and very scared. I was once brought a girl who refused to let me touch her for two hours.”
Dr Syed Ali Wasif, a psychiatrist at the Ziauddin University Hospital, explains that the act of deriving sexual pleasure from pre-pubescent children is a sexual perversion called pedophilia. The reason for this perversion, he feels, is the levels of sexual frustration in our society. “Sex is a taboo. When people cannot talk about it, they are driven to experiment.”
“Mass migration and the fact that the city has become a crime zone also play a part. Additionally, the way sex is presented on the Internet and the media also worsens the situation.”
He believes there is need for children to be educated. “This includes saying no to candies from strangers, knowing parts of their bodies that people are not allowed to touch, and making sure they tell a trusted adult if an unpleasant act has been committed.”