Pakistan’s Child Sexual Abuse Scandal

August 11, 2015 OPINION/NEWS

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By

Sattar Rind

A few days ago in the daily newspapers of Pakistan news emerged that a gang of twenty five people had been making pornographic videos of children between the ages of six and sixteen. The abuse was said to have taken place in the village of Husain Khanwala in the Pakistani Kasur District, not far from Lahore, the capital city of the Punjab province and home of Sharif Brothers, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister of Punjab Shehbaz Sharif.

Since 2006 a powerful gang had been forcing the children at gun point or by other means to get them into a room at a local school or private house where they were abused and filmed. The victims’ families were then blackmailed in the fear that the film would appear on a street market or online, paying huge sums of money to the gang with the promise that the film would be destroyed.

It has been reported that one of the Government Party Members of the Provincial Assembly, Malik Ahmed Saeed, has been backing the criminals and had known about the affair from the start.

Widespread opinion states that victims never tried to go to the police to report the horrific crimes as people knew that the police would never go against such powerful people. In addition to this, sexual abuse is perceived as shameful and taboo in Pakistani society thus people go to extremes to hide the issue one in way or other from the public.

However, following the theft of a memory card from the main criminal’s mobile phone, the story of the abuse was sent to a number of journalists, in addition to making local villagers aware of the scandal, this despite locals already being aware of the situation and the hell they were silently suffering.

Following the news that more than 300 children, boys and girls, had been abused with over 400 videos made, it emerged that the films were sold for 50 rupees (49 cents of a US dollar) in Kasur and Lahore and might also have been to countries in Europe.

 

Such a tragedy has also been witnessed by the people of Lahore in the 1990s when a serial killer, Javed Iqbal, sexually abused and murdered one hundred children, throwing them in drums of acid.

In terms of the most recent scandal in Husain Khan Wala the government initially denied the news reports but local people came forward and started a protest which changed into that of a public one, involving clashes with the police, injuries resulting on both sides.

The public demanded the arrest of the criminals and the influential people backing them. The issue erupted at a national level when a senior minister of the Punjab Government, Rana Sanaulah, claimed without any evidence that it was due to a land dispute between two parties in which one person sold to another or wanted to obtain the land through such pressure as abusing their children. Within hours however it was confirmed by a journalist that the senior Minister of the Punjab Government was not telling the truth.

Rana Sanaullah even claimed that eight years ago, incidents of child molestation and videos of such acts to blackmail families had been reported in the area, adding that cases were registered against those involved and the culprits apprehended. This was also claimed by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz group of law makers who insisted that the scandal had been created by rival parties involved in a violent land dispute.

As soon as news aired electronically and through the print media however, social activists began to put pressure on the government to provide verification of the news through independent sources. This resulted in the Chief Minister announcing a high-level inquiry committee to investigate child sex abuse and blackmailing by a gang in Husain Khanwala and other villages in Kasur. The committee’s report however went against the victims, conceding that reports of child molestation were groundless.

Again this was another mistake by the government as the issue went out of control, the government hiding the largest scandal in the history of Pakistan.

Therefore when press releases were issued to the media on behalf of the Chief Minister there was no indication that said person was supporting the committee’s report or that it was a case of a “fake game” between two parties against each other.

Insisted of that Chief Minister of Punjab Shehbaz Sharif ordered a judicial inquiry, directing staff to request the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court to immediately form a commission made up of district and sessions judges to conduct the inquiry.

Meanwhile, following public and civil society pressure, police arrested seven people, accepting the charges as true. Reports suggest that five of those arrested were released on the court’s pre-arrest bail but federal authorities ordered the re-arrest of all five.

All political parties came forward to issue statements in which they showed their concern, labelling it as a slap in the face of civilisation.

The people of Pakistan however have great experience of situations where the government calls for a judicial inquiry, it usually meaning they want to employ delay tactics or to scrap the inquiry altogether, the government hoping people forget about it entirely.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sattar Rind

Sattar Rind lives in Sindh, Pakistan. and is an Author with four books to his credit. three poetry and one on politics. As a Columnist he has written for a number of newspapers and magazines since 1991. Sattar can be contacted at the following email address: sattar-rind@hotmail.com

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