ISLAMABAD (AFP) - The number of young boys being sexually abused in Pakistan has increased this year, a new watchdog report said on Wednesday (Nov 18), with more boys between the ages of six and 10 being victims than girls.
In total the number of boys being abused increased by 4.3 per cent in the first half of 2015 compared to the same period last year, according to the study from Sahil, a non-government organisation (NGO) working against child sex abuse.
The report said that 178 boys aged six to 10 were abused, compared to 150 girls of the same ages.
"The reason for this is that more boys go out of home to play in the streets and are easily trapped," Mr Mumtaz Gohar, a spokesman for Sahil, told AFP.
"Many families also prefer not to report offences against the girls because of defamation issues," he said.
The number of women involved in sexual assaults has increased alarmingly, with the report saying that 102 cases from January to June in 2015 involved "female abettors" - five times as many as the same period in 2014.
The report showed a decline of 221 in overall abuse cases involving children of all ages, with roughly nine children a day being sexually abused over the first six months of 2015 in Pakistan. The figure for the first six months of 2015 was 1,565 compared with 1,786 for the same period last year.
Sex is a taboo subject in the deeply conservative Muslim-majority country. Activists working to fight child abuse have said the problem is widespread but difficult to quantify because victims are often unwilling to speak out.
Last year Mr Sahil charted more than 3,500 registered cases in total, with a spokesman saying the true figure could be as high as 10,000.
Earlier this month, Pakistan took a step towards punishing those guilty of abusing young girls with life imprisonment or even death after an influential parliamentary committee voted to amend current laws.
The amendment only appears to address the sexual abuse of girls aged under 14, not boys.
In August, a huge scandal emerged involving at least 280 children who lawyers said were filmed being sexually abused, with their parents blackmailed over the footage.