Pakistan's Hidden Shame


Photo by: Abdul Wali Baloch

September 21, 2019

All around the world, children everywhere are experiencing sexual abuse at the hands of strangers and so-called “loved” ones. WHO reported in 2017 that 1 billion minors at that point had experienced some sort of sexual violence in their young lives. This topic is still considered taboo in many places, and as people become more educated on the matter, many of them are breaking the ice on this conversation. 

Mo Naqvi, award winning documentary creator, made the groundbreaking film “Pakistan’s Hidden Shame” in 2014, shining a light on a widespread issue that plagues Pakistan (as well as many other South Asian countries) but is continuously silenced out of “etiquette” and “manners”. There are 1.5 million street children in Pakistan, every s...

May 18, 2018

When reading about the street children of Pakistan, their sexual abuse, the most common question one asks themselves is; why can they not escape this lifestyle?

The answer is not simple, it is an integration of the poverty life cycle, disease and societal taboo. To understand why, it is important that we first analyze the poverty life cycle and abuse of a street child.

Case study:

The life cycle starts out with a child who is born in to a poor family with six children already. The poor family may move to bigger cities from rural areas in the hope of work and a better economic condition. The father takes a job in a local mechanic shop. Assuming it is a boy in this particular case, is still able to go to school because the father is earning...

February 23, 2018

On Tuesday, the 9th of January 2018, the body of a little eight year old girl named Zainab was found amongst a pile of garbage. Her parents reported her missing days before yet the police failed to take any effective action.

Since then, this case, in particular has blown up all over social media and the #justiceforZainab has been trending on almost every single social media site worldwide. However, this incident is not an isolated incident. This incident just managed to grasp the attention of the social media- which is incredible as mostly every such case gets buried. Actors, actresses, and even politicians have offered their condolences and participated in protests around the country to bring light to this issue- even the army has offe...

January 7, 2018

The abuse and sexual exploitation of street children in the region of Peshawar is common practice today. This abstract will explore some of the cultural aspects that influence the continued perpetration of these otherwise illegal activities.

Whenever a common practice takes place, regardless if it is good or bad, there is always an external mindset that permits the practice to take place. Culture, religion and moral standards all play a prominent role- resulting in suffering of, usually, the lowest people. In Pakistan, the lowest of the low in the eyes of culture and society are the street children. To understand the abuse of street children, it is incredibly important to realize and their neglect and mistreatment is not only culturally...

December 27, 2017

Pakistan has made many attempts over the years to protect its children. After just a month of its independence it joined the United Nations on September 30, 1947. Pakistan has been committed to a world upholding human dignity. A world where justice and fair play govern the affairs of all human beings. So why is it that the street children in Pakistan, specifically in Peshawar, continue to suffer so much?


There are many laws set in place to protect the children of the world. Pakistan is a part of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. The Convention of the Rights of the child was enforced by the United Nations on September 2, 1990. It’s a human rights treaty which sets out...

December 20, 2017

While many people encounter street children daily or have encountered street children at some point in their lives, very few people take a moment to reflect on their experience and what those children's lives actually entail. 

Submit your anonymous story or a story you may have heard about street children to open up an honest discussion about the issue here.


As a child, when going into the marketplace of Pakistan, I would always be compelled to play with children that I saw standing around in the streets. But every time I would even entertain the thought, my aunt quickly grabbed my hand and pulled me away, saying it was dangerous. How could it be dangerous to play with other kids? Only years later did I realize that the children...

After researching the available organizations who advocate for street children, we found Sahil to be one of the most reputable and accomplished. We spoke directly with Sahil’s executive director Manizeh Bano, to learn more about the organization and the work they do.

Sahil is one of the few non-profit organizations that has been working on child protection since 1996. They have a special focus on the issue of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Their work includes the capacity building of teachers, parents, communities, law enforcement agencies, government departments and CSOs. Sahil works to provide crisis intervention, free legal aid, and free counseling services for victims of violence, advocacy, research, and publications along with...

On October 22nd, 2017, Aleena and Yasmeen were able to sit down for a formal interview with Mo Naqvi, the director of Pakistan’s Hidden Shame and a globally acclaimed filmmaker. His important work opened their eyes to the atrocities occurring, and his devotion to helping these kids has continuously inspired them to continue pushing forward on creating change. The documentary is linked below.

Q: The documentary you made was so profound and gut wrenching, how did you even come across this issue and decide to make a film about it?

A: I grew up in Pakistan and I think there was always some incident that had always come out in the news of child abuse, or any abuse, and I think this was an issue that was an open secret. I mean, everybody knew...

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