Paedophilia in Punjab reaching alarming levels
* Child Protection Bill was drafted in 2008, but has not been approved by parliament to date
* Child molestation cases silenced for lack of evidence and fear of social stigma
By Hina Akhtar
LAHORE: Cases of paedophilia have seen a dramatic increase in the country in a span of a few years, Daily Times has learnt.
Child molestation is no longer a secret or something that can only happen to “other people”. These sort of sex offenders may be people we meet every day. There are high chances of the victim knowing the offender. Paedophilia is not the problem of a certain area or income group. It is not likely poverty or illiteracy, which are problems of a certain class. Research from all over the world has shown that child molestation can occur in all socio-economic classes, even in educated families.
A Child Protection Bill was drafted in October 2008. Federal Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira said, on July 5, 2009, that the government was determined to make the bill a vital part of legislation and it would soon be approved by parliament. He said this while speaking at the launch of the Post Card Campaign organised in connection with the Campaign for Child Protection, held at the National Press Club (NPC). “I promise that I, not as a minister, but as your advocate and representative, will leave no stone unturned to defend and pass the bill from parliament,” the minister said.
It has been two years since the National Child Protection Bill was tabled before parliament. The proposed piece of legislation could have been a breakthrough for innocent girls and boys being molested and murdered across the country, but the lack of interest on part of the parliamentarians clearly shows that there is no chance of the bill getting approved. Likewise, the Punjab government has also continuously failed to implement pledges of stern action against criminals of child molestation, trying them under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
According to the recent statistics given by SAHIL, a non-government organisation, Punjab is on the top of the list for child molestation with 62 percent of such cases, 154 in Lahore and the rest in other cities of Punjab.
In total, 68 percent girls and 32 percent boys have been the victims of paedophilia. The number increased by 9.4 percent as compared to 2008. Statistics show that around 81 percent of the cases were registered with the police. The study shows that 2,012 children were reportedly abused in 2009 and most of them were abused by acquaintances.
The report says that children from the 11 to 15 age-group are amongst the most vulnerable, followed by the age-group 6 to 10. Out of a total 2,012 victims, 6 percent of the children were murdered after being sexually assaulted. However, 0.5 percent cases were of those children who were murdered during an “attempt” of sexual assault.
According to the study, “it is difficult to collect actual data regarding child molestation as the abusers threaten children not to share such experiences, even with parents”.
Cases: Even in cases where the molesters are revealed, people are unable to bring them to the book without solid evidence. Due to lack of evidence and social stigma, parents of molested children often choose to stay silent, hence these incidents go ignored.
One of the worst cases of child molestation is the rape and murder of a four-year-old girl in the village of Kharrianwala near Faisalabad. The incident was appreciably highlighted by the media, and there were huge protests leading to a massive blockade of the Faisalabad-Sheikhupura road. The coverage by the media, eventually compelled Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to take notice of the case.
Examples of other child molestation cases in the year 2009 include the abduction, rape and murder of eight-year-old Mudassara in the New Anarkali police jurisdiction, the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl who was found dumped in a drain near the Gujjarpura police jurisdiction and the murder of 10-year-old Muzammil who was found near the Mayo Hospital on December 2, 2009. Up till now, in 2010, a 10-year-old boy, Jamshed was killed after being gang-raped on January 10. Other notorious and heinous incidents include the rape and murder of a 3-year-old girl named Sana by two policemen in Karachi. The child’s body was recovered from a manhole and the culprits were sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court.
The legal officer of the Child Protection Bureau, Rana Mumtaz was not available to give any statement regarding this issue despite repeated attempts to contact him.