News of a child sexual abuse ring rocked a rural Pakistani village this past week. According to reports, over hundreds of children were kidnapped, drugged, and raped by a pedophile ring led by members of a local gang in Kasur:
Villagers accuse police officials of covering up a pedophile ring, after videos emerged of their children being molested by members of a prominent and influential local family.
They say the abuse had been going on since at least 2009, and that the children were blackmailed to steal from their homes to prevent the videos from going public.
According to a survey by the group last week, one in three of the 500 households questioned in the district of Kasur had a child who had been sexually abused, Sara said.
CNN affiliate Geo TV reported higher numbers, saying around 400 videos were made of 280 minors.
The abuse appears to have been widely known. One mother told CNN that her son was raped for five hours. She claimed that after seeing the video she went to the police who did nothing. Another mother claimed that when she reported her son’s assault, the police “said all our cases were the same, to bring something new for them.”
None of the articles I read go into any detail about why the police would cover up such wide-scale abuse. They do mention a prominent family being involved, but it is unclear exactly what this family did or why their influence was so important as to ignore child rape.
There is some positive element to this. It appears the Pakistani public reacted negatively to the news:
For now, the scandal remains a constant fixture on the country’s rolling 24 hour news channels.
And in Hussain Khan Wala, the rage provoked by the case continues to simmer.
On Tuesday, Punjab province’s chief of police announced that the suspects wold be tried in a terrorism court to expedite the process. He said 3 police officials have been suspended pending an investigation.
But their press conference was met with slogans of “Death to the police!” and had to be cut short when an angry mob began pelting the police convoy with shoes and stones.
Given how taboo this subject is, that is a good sign. In many cultures, sexual abuse is an unspoken evil. Everyone knows it happens, but no one wants to talk about it. When cases like this one bring the abuse forward, the reaction varies from supportive to vicious denial. Most often there is simply indifference and a desire to go back to normal.
What remains to be seen is how the government handles this. I do not think Pakistan law has severe punishments for sexual abuse, particularly against boys, so it is unclear what penalties anyone convicted of a crime against a child would face. More concerning is whether this case forces a conversation about this topic or whether people go back to ignoring it once the news cycle dies down.