Islamabad: The primary responsibility for protection of children falls on the family -- but families in Pakistan seem to be the "nodal point" for child abuse, two leading Pakistani dailies said Monday.
The News International said the Pakistani society was "remarkably careless" about children`s welfare and safety.
It said a report published by the Madadgar National Helpline "makes truly shocking reading" and was a "shameful indictment" of the authorities and families for failing to protect children.
In the first six months of 2012, there were 2,331 cases of reported violence against minors. Forced marriage, rape, sodomy, honour killing and torture all feature among the cases.
Many minors committed suicide, or were trafficked. Many were kidnapped for ransom or revenge, and a total of 367 were murdered.
Punjab led with 1,059 cases, Sindh had 687 cases, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had 382 and Balochistan had 203.
"Although these figures are in themselves shocking, they represent the tip of a much larger iceberg of abuse," the News International said.
"Children everywhere are being abused sexually and their civil rights as individuals trampled upon. Pernicious cultural practices allow the abuse to continue unchecked, and encourage rather than discourage appalling acts against children."
There was little or no child protection legislation, and children continue to be abused in schools, madrassas, workplaces and, primarily, in their homes "by the very people on whom the primary duty to protect devolves - their parents".
The Dawn said it was the duty of the provinces to pass laws concerning children`s welfare.
But there has been a "lack of intent and capacity" to pass such laws.
"Legislation is only a first step. What is needed most is compassion at the societal level for vulnerable children, and the realisation that children have inviolable rights -- rights that society denies them in a brutal fashion," the daily said.
It said children in the country face many challenges -- malnutrition, exposure to violence and diseases like polio.
For children living on the streets, the risks are even greater -- substance abuse and routine sexual violence.
The threat of HIV among street children was an emerging concern, it said.
Unless the Pakistani society reforms itself and "the state moves beyond rhetoric" and takes practical steps for the welfare of children, "we will only be bequeathing misery to the next generation", the Dawn lamented.