Criminals tighten digital space for children; Upload 2m exploitative images
Amraiz Khan Lahore
After six years of the brutal incident of Zainab, Kasur district once again has stood ‘first’ in child sexual abuse and pornography with 298 cases out of 2275 across the country during the year 2021, documents available with ‘Pakistan Observer’ revealed.
Apart from that, over 2m exploitative images of children were uploaded to Facebook which indicates that criminals after the physical world have made digital space narrow for minors. A former Director General disclosed that over the last five years only 343 cases related to indecent pictures of children have been reported.
An FIA investigator while talking to Pakistan Observer said, “Conviction rate in child pornography cases is so poor that after such huge number of cases during the year 2021 only five cases were decided. Unfortunately, no exemplary punishment was given to any single accused. All accused were awarded with 3 years of imprisonment with 20 to 40 thousand rupees fine”.
He was of the view that children exploitation issue is not on priority of our rulers, whereas, in the developed countries like Australia, Canada and America, it is considered the most heinous crime after terrorism. Punishment for this crime is life imprisonment in these countries, he added.
In the year 2021, the analysis of the data indicates that a total of 2275 child sexual abuse cases were reported across the country and 30 percent raise was witnessed in this number as compared to the correspondence period. Out of these 2275 cases, 145 were of child pornography along with sexual abuse and abduction. Data gathered by an NGO (Sahil) also speaks about the volume of the crime. As per data out of total 2275 cases, 750 cases were reported of sodomy, 676 of rape, 561 were the attempt of child sexual abuse, 133 cases of pornography and CSA, 87 cases were murder after CSA, and 68 cases were reported of incest. Also, 1303 cases were reported of abduction, whereas 438 cases were reported of missing children, and 80 cases were reported of child marriages.
The data shows that more than 10 children have been abused per day during the year 2021. The cases of child abuse have increased by more than 30% as compared to the year 2020. In comparison to last year’s data, a significant increase can be seen from 89 cases of pornography in 2020 to 145 cases in 2021. Child pornography is recognized as a specific form of child abuse and there are now many national and international efforts to tackle it. In Punjab a few days back a delegation of UNICEF’s Child Protection Head Ms Daniela Luciani met with Punjab Ombudsman Maj. ® Azam Suleman Khan and discussed issues of mutual interest. Different NGOs, Police, FIA and many other institutions were engaged in protection of children rights but despite these efforts, the volume of pornography and child abuse cases is increasing. Child pornography creates a permanent record of a child’s sexual abuse.
When these images/videos are placed on the Internet and disseminated online, the victimization of the children continues. Experts and victims agree that victims depicted in child pornography often suffer a lifetime of re-victimization by knowing the images of their sexual abuse are on the Internet forever.
In country there are ten most vulnerable districts for child abuse cases.
In the year 2021, out of the total number of 3852 reported cases more than half 52% of cases were reported from these 10 districts. As per data available with ‘Pakistan Observer’ once again after 6 years, this year Kasur is on the top with 298 cases. It is worth mentioning here that a former Director General FIA as well as officials of Meta, which owns Facebook speaking at a seminar demanded much greater action from the state against the accused involved in this heinous crime. They were of the view that social media companies, as well as the public, are required to punish the criminals involved in these horrific crimes, and protect youngsters from abuse.
It was general perception among the different circles of life that after the shocking 2015 Kasur child pornography scandal and the brutal murder of little Zainab, who was abducted from the same city, state and society would have taken firm action against child abusers. An activist of an NGO working for Children rights said, “To me children are so low on our priority list that apart from the enacting the Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery law no important actions have been taken against accused involved in this heinous crime”.
Social media firms and law-enforcement must respectively take down these images immediately, and track down those responsible for uploading them, he lamented.
When contacted DPO Kasur his cell remained unattended then this scribe left a message on his cell phone to know his view point over the issue but to no avail.