The conceptualization of Child Sexual Abuse and a child-victim sexual offender in Pakistan.

Ms Sobia Masood1

1The University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a multifaceted phenomenon and is perpetuated in all societies across the world.  My research intends to explore how CSA is constructed in Pakistani socio-cultural context and the challenges involved in setting up legal measures to address this problem. One of the challenges is the social construction of a child-victim sex offender. Pakistan has no official statistics on the incidence or prevalence rates of CSA, however, according to Sahil – a non-governmental organization working on ending CSA in Pakistan – an estimated 3,832 children (55% girls and 45% boys) were sexually abused in 2018. Existing laws in Pakistan criminalize CSA and child pornography but do not address probationary measures for those adjudicated of sexual offenses. There is a lack of policy catered towards those who intentionally target children, and one of the reasons for this is the contested notion of a child in socio-legal circles. This research aims to contribute knowledge about child victim sexual offending in the Pakistani criminal justice system by using Foucault’s notion of problematization and power/knowledge relations. In this paper, I will outline the research, its methods and key questions. I will use the example of marginalized (and generally taboo) practice of bacha bazi – a sexual relationship between a bacha (boy) and an adult man (bacha baz) – to illustrate how relations of power embedded in institutions such as family and religion present particular socio-cultural and legal challenges in drafting measures to address this problem in Pakistan.


Sobia Masood is a PhD candidate in Criminology in the University of Melbourne. Her research interests include conceptualization of child victim sexual offenders, child sexual abuse, sex offenses and qualitative methodology. She holds a Masters in Criminology with Forensic Psychology from Middlesex University, London. She has worked as a lecturer/researcher in the Departments of Behavioral Sciences since 2012-2017 and is currently in the Department of Gender Studies since 2017 in Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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