Children whose families say they have been abused hide their faces while their mothers are interviewed in the village of Husain Khan Wala, in Pakistan’s Punjab province, on August 9.
They say the abuse had been going on since at least 2009, and that thechildren were blackmailed to steal from their homes to prevent the videos from going public. “How can a child be safe if he knows that his parents, the culture and societal norms expect him to remain silent to uphold the family’s “honor”?”
The police denied the allegations, saying they have been carrying out raids and seizing the videos. “My son is in the videos, he is a victim”, she said.
“The police are protecting the criminals, they are supporting them and have provided them an opportunity to escape the village”, Sara told reporters.
“Our children were forced into this”, she said.
This weekend, the prime minister vowed an investigation after Pakistani media covered protests by parents that police in the district of Kasur had not investigated their complaints.
District police chief Rai Babar Saeed claimed that the scandal was really centered around a hostile land dispute and that the numbers of children abused had been inflated.
“I assure you that we are taking this very seriously and there will be a fair and very transparent investigation”, he said. Although the incident aroused widespread outrage, none of the perpetrators has been arrested so far, Salman pointed out.
His despair highlighted loopholes in the criminal justice system, which lawyers said provide the wealthy and powerful with to avoid punishment. Talking to this scribe, Mr. M.A. (name abbreviated for anonymity) a resident of Hussain Khan Wala whose own son is a victim of this scandal said: “What is the need of reporting it to police?” “Despite several announcements only eight complainants came forward”, he added.
Saeed said 30 children were found to have been abused, though activists and locals maintain the figure is closer to 300.
“People are afraid. They are being threatened and intimidated”, he said. Seven families have filed police complaints, he said. Six months later, the accused showed me the video clips when I refused to perform sexual acts on camera again.
“Kids were being intimidated in these videos with weapons, they were drugged”.
In one clip seen by Reuters news agency, a boy cowers and cries before putting his hands over the camera lens.
One boy told BBC Urdu the abuse began when he was 11. Each of them had a weapon – one had an axe. He says he was abused when he was only 13.
“The entire chaks of Ganda Singh were aware of the offence but the villagers kept silence for years because of the fear and blackmail of the accused”, a police officer said.
“It shattered me so badly that I would often walk out of my school”.