Offence and Defence

The feeling of being “cut-off” from peers and “emotional numbness” are both results of CSA and highly inhibit proper social functioning.

By Wajahat Ali Malik | June 2020

Child-on-child sexual abuse is a form of child sexual abuse (CSA) in which a child is sexually abused by one or more other children and in which no adult is directly involved in sexually abusing the child. This can happen when one of the children uses physical force, threats, trickery or emotional manipulation to elicit cooperation. It can also include non-coercive situations when a child proposes or starts a sexual act and the victimized child does not understand the nature of the act; the latter simply goes along without comprehending the implications or what the consequences may be.

Children who are sexually victimized by other minors show the same problems largely as children victimized by adults, including anxiety disorders, depression, drug abuse, suicide, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders and difficulty trusting peers in the context of relationships.

Under international law, there is no uniform definition of child sexual abuse. The International Rescue Committee and Unicef define CSA by compiling various definitions of CSA as “Child sexual abuse is any form of sexual activity with a child by an adult or by another child who has power over the child”.

From the afore-stated definition, it is possible for a child to be sexually abused by another child. CSA often involves body contact. This could include sexual kissing, touching and oral, anal or vaginal sex. But all kinds of sexual abuse do not involve body contact. Forcing a child to witness rape and/or other acts of sexual violence, forcing children to watch pornography or show their private parts, showing a child private parts (“flashing”), verbally pressuring a child for sex and exploiting children as prostitutes or for pornography are also acts of sexual abuse.

In Pakistan’s criminal justice system, CSA and child pornography are defined and penalized under Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 (PPC), Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 and various provincial laws of the land. PPC prescribing punishments for offences committed in Pakistan, defines CSA in its section 377A as “Whoever employs, uses, forces, persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any person to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in fondling, stroking, caressing, exhibitionism, voyeurism or any obscene or sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct either independently or in conjunction with other acts, with or without consent where age of person is less than eighteen years, is said to commit the offence of sexual abuse”.

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The writer is a human rights lawyer and an advocate of the High Court, based in Islamabad. He can be reached at adv.wajahat.ali

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