08/14/2015, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Justice and Peace Commission on child abuse in Pakistan

by Skafique Khokhar
Pakistani police arrested 25 people in connection with videos showing the abuse of 284 children, aged 6 to 14, whose parents were then subject to blackmail. For Kashif Aslam, the country needs a code of conduct or laws to protect children. Justice and Peace Commission presents a number of demands to avoid future sexual abuses.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – “Children are the future of our nation. The government has to protect them to meet its social, moral and international obligations vis-à-vis the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child*. We hope the government will seriously address the issue of children’s protection and security,” said the Justice and Peace Commission of Pakistan (NCJP) in a statement issued following recent revelations about sex abuses involving children in Kasur District (central-eastern province of Punjab).

This is the most serious case of violence against children ever reported in the country. It involves 284 children, aged six to 14 years, and 25 adults arrested on charges of making 400 videos, used to blackmail the children’s families.

The case came to light on 8 August, when police arrested the members of a criminal gang. Investigators are concerned that local politicians might be involved, and that they might harass the victims’ families, which have already been blackmailed over the videos.

In Pakistan, many minors are victim of sex crimes. In 2014 alone, some 3,500 children have been involved, 67 per cent in rural areas.

For this reason, the NCJP has called on political leaders "from all parties to condemn strongly such serious criminal offences, and not use it for internal political purposes."

The Commission said that the victims should be given immediate medical and psychological help to deal with the trauma and that any officials involved be removed and indicted.

It called on the government to introduce sex education courses in schools to prevent such crimes in the future and create a commission to formulate legislation to punish child abuse and pornography.

Finally, the NCJP called for a review of the role and responsibilities of the Child Protection Bureau to make it more efficient and responsible.

“The situation in the country is becoming more alarming,” said NCJP coordinator Kashif Aslam as he spoke to AsiaNews about last week’s awful episode. “We desperately need a code of conduct or laws that protect the rights of children, but unfortunately human rights protection is not a government's priority."

"In the past, private schools offered children sex ed courses so that they could learn to protect themselves and assert their rights,” he EXPLAINED. “Now the government has banned the (sex ed) books because it considers them against religion,” i.e. Islam.

The authorities should instead "allow those courses to prevent violence in schools. Pakistan has no laws and policies that make children safe, despite having signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child."

* The Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed in 1989. Pakistan ratified it in 1990.

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