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.


Biography:

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.

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