This is the sound of grieving parents protesting in front of the local police office in the city of Kasur in Pakistan. Their children were filmed while being sexually abused.
“The culprits shut the children’s mouths and kidnapped them from the village. The children were later intoxicated and sexually abused and filmed on camera,” Karam Bibi said.
A gang of more than 20 men allegedly abused nearly 300 young children for child pornography.
The children were forced to have sex and more than 400 videos were then sold in the market for 200 US dollars each. Their parents were blackmailed to keep quiet.
“Then the culprits blackmailed us and received 8000 US dollars from us. They also looted gold from our house. We complained to the authorities, but no one has listened to us,” Karam Bibi added.
A local gang began filming sexual exploits with the children in 2006… and allegedly continued until last year. All the children were under 14 years old and residents of Husain Khanwala village.
Ronald Patrick’s son was molested four years ago. “My son was on his way to the fields to give me lunch there. They took him to an abandoned house. Five to six men had sex with my son and then he was intoxicated. My son was abused in 2011. I didn’t know about it. Now, I have learned that the same criminal had abused my children.”
The parents protested saying the police didn’t take any action against the culprits. Many say the gang has close links with politicians.
As a mother of a victim, Mukhtara Qamar has filed a complaint to the police.
“Whenever we tried to complain against the accused, they threatened to kill us. They would fight with the families and shut them up,” Mukhtara Qamar said.
But local police have since August 9 identified the pedophile group and arrested 13 suspects for sexually abusing the children.
Muhammad Usman has denied allegations he was involved. “We have not sexually abused the children. In fact, this was a simple dispute. But, an issue has been created out of it to implicate us. Around two years back these families had a dispute with one villager. All this has been done to settle personal scores.”
Currently, the suspects are being interrogated but it’s unclear when the trial will start.
Pakistan became a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Child Rights in 1990, but it has been poorly implemented and children continued to be sexually exploited.
According to a study about the state of child rights funded by the Unicef 3,500 cases of abuse against children were reported last year.
This is an alarming situation, says rights activist Zia Ahmed Awan.
“Kasur scandal is the most heinous form of organized crime against the children. But, it’s not just being committed in Kasur, but in rest of the country also. [The] situation of children’s rights in Pakistan is very disappointing, and dismal. Pakistan has majority of young population and children are around 40 percent.”
Under Pakistani law, sexual abuse against children under 18 years is punishable with death or life imprisonment but law enforcement is weak.
Rights activists are hoping for a new law to curb child pornography but it’s been on hold since last year in the parliament.
Zia says there’s no political will to resolve the issue.
“Occasionally, they speak out something, they show their support for child rights. But, practically if you seen when they come into government how much funding they allocate, what kind of protection mechanism they are creating… the implementation of law is not there. The children are the most vulnerable population in this country,” Zia said.