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LAHORE: While India’s official crime records suggest that as many as 109 children were sexually abused every day in this country during 2018, the child sexual abuse rate in Pakistan between January and June 2019 had rested at seven children per day, research conducted by the "Jang Group and Geo Television Network" shows.
But it is not just India or Pakistan, where sexual offenders are having a field day.
While these heinous sex-related crimes, especially in case of children, pose a daunting challenge for international political regimes, global police forces and other law enforcement agencies, they have recently left scores of pinching queries for governments world over as rapes and murders of tender souls continue unabated.
Child sexual abuse numbers in India:
Quoting the Indian National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), the January 12, 2020 report of "India Today" had stated: "According to the recently released NCRB data, 32,608 cases were reported in 2017 while 39,827 cases were reported in 2018 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. As many as 21,605 child rapes were recorded in 2018 which included 21,401 rapes of girls and 204 of boys, the data showed. The highest number of child rapes were recorded in Maharashtra at 2,832 followed by Uttar Pradesh at 2023 and Tamil Nadu at 1457, the data showed."
The esteemed Indian media house had added: "Overall crimes against children has increased steeply over six times in the decade over 2008-2018, from 22,500 cases recorded in 2008 to 1,41,764 cases in 2018."
Just a few days ago, a seven-year-old Indian girl was raped in the state of Madhya Pradesh and then her molester had gone on to damage her eyes so that she could not identify him!
Imagine the agony, pain distress and helplessness of the poor child!
According to French news agency "AFP," the Indian doctors had battled a few days ago to save the unfortunate child’s eyesight.
Headquartered in Paris, the world's oldest news agency writes: "Nearly 34,000 rapes were reported in India in 2018, according to official data. Madhya Pradesh had the highest number of any state with 6,500. But the figures are considered the tip of the iceberg, with many more victims too scared to come forward."
A February 2020 report of the "Human Rights Watch," an international non-governmental organization, headquartered in New York City, had revealed: "And despite strong legislation, India’s official crime records show that more than 100 children were
sexually abused every day in 2018.
The government’s good polices have been undermined by a failure to enforce them. South Asian leaders, instead of establishing robust child protection systems, reforming the criminal justice system, and ensuring that victims and their families receive legal and psychosocial support, seem content to scream for rapists to be hanged or summarily executed. But the death penalty has proved no deterrent."
Child sexual abuse statistics in Pakistan:
Pakistan has even hanged child rapists in recent past, but even capital punishment could not stop pedophiles from preying on children.
On October 17, 2018, a man convicted for the rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab Amin in Kasur earlier that year, was hanged to death in Lahore.
Zainab's father had regretted that the authorities did not allow the live telecast of convict Imran Ali's hanging.
Zainab's rape and murder had sparked outrage and protests across the country, following the recovery of the child's body from a trash heap a week after she went missing.
But, pedophile Imran Ali's hanging could not deter the men sexually attracted towards children, as the horrific news of the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl, Madiha, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Hangu District in February 2020, had again sent the entire country in a shock.
However, it is worth revisiting the history and recalling that the public hanging of a killer and rapist of a young boy, Pappu, over four decades ago had effectively worked as deterrence during late General Ziaul Haq’s tenure.
In 1981, a child named ‘Pappu’ was kidnapped from Lahore's Baghbanpura area (near Shalamar Bagh) and a few days later; his body was recovered from a Pakistan Railways pond nearby.
The military court during General Ziaul Haq's Martial Law regime had sentenced the kidnappers and the killer to death. Within a week, the abductors of Pappu and his killer were hanged publicly till death at a site where Begumpura locality's vegetable and fruit market exists today.
The bodies of the culprits were made to remain hanging till sunset and this stern punishment had served as an effective deterrent as no child was reportedly abducted or raped in the country for the next 19 years.
It was in March 2000 that an Additional Sessions Judge in Lahore had sentenced an alleged serial killer Javed Iqbal, 38, to death by hanging for sexually molesting and murdering around 100 destitute children between the ages of 6 to 16. The verdict said that he was to be hanged in a public park in front of the parents whose children he was convicted of murdering.
After he was strangled, Judge Allah Baksh Ranja added, Iqbal's body "will then be cut into 100 pieces and put in acid the same way he killed the children."
But Javed was never hanged.
After 18 months of the sentence, he died in mysterious circumstances in Kot Lakhpat jail. His two accomplices met the same fate.
Although he surrendered to the law in the Jang newspaper office in December 1999, he had pleaded not guilty in a court of law and appealed against the verdict in the Shariat court.
The case itself came to surface in November 1999 when Javed conveyed the details of his crime to the authorities through parcels filled with evidence and pictures of his victims. The self-proclaimed killer left two human skeletons in an acid-filled container at the house from where the police recovered at least nine bags carrying clothes and shoes of the victims.
In both cases discussed above, the judges seemed to have applied the maximum moral and legal force they had at their disposal – capital punishments – ostensibly to calm public outrage, but have these verdicts made Pakistan safer for children?
In September 2019, according to a Pakistani NGO "Sahil," child sexual abuse rate in Pakistan between January and June 2019 had rested at 7 children per day.
The NGO’s data was based on child sexual abuse cases reported in 84 national, regional and local daily newspapers.
And, by the way, these are just the reported cases, as most victims and their families keep mum due to fears of being shamed and smeared.
Quoting the NGO "Sahil," a Pakistani newspaper had thus propounded: "Total number of cases reported during last six month are 1,304 including both boys and girls while majority of the cases are reported in the crime category of rape/sodomy and abduction for sexual purposes respectively.
However, we believe that these numbers do not represent the total numbers of such incidents in Pakistan – keeping in mind that such incidents often are under reported. A gender split analysis shows that female reported cases of Child Sexual Abuse are more in number than the male cases. Out of total 1304 children who were sexually abused, 575 were boys and 729 were girls."
With reference to child abuse in Pakistan, the February 2020 report of the "Human Rights Watch" has argued: "Authorities broke up a child pornography ring in Pakistan’s Kasur district in 2015, but without proper follow-up, the abuses have continued.A child rights group has documented more than 3,800 cases of child sexual abuse across Pakistan, but the numbers are likely much higher because of underreporting."
Global prevalence of child sexual abuse:
The menace of molesting children has been a regular feature across the length and breadth of the planet for ages, and it is actually the culture of secrecy that has fanned this worst form of violence.
In United States, according to an American NGO called Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), which claims to be the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the country, a child is sexually abused every nine minutes. And this is just the reported number!
This American NGO has thus rightfully pointed out: "Sexual violence is notoriously difficult to measure, and there is no single source of data that provides a complete picture of the crime."
And as mentioned above, pedophiles anywhere around the planet just continue to do what they wish to, and are least worried about punishments for the crime.
Not long ago, on January 29, 2020, a registered sex offender was sentenced to 168 years in prison in the United States for the rape of two children.
According to the American media, a Criminal Court jury in Memphis city in Tennessee State, had convicted the 44-year-old Jerry Carter on 10 felony counts against two children under the age of 10, including three counts of rape of a child, three counts of incest, three counts of soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor, and one count of child abuse and neglect.
The key cause behind sexual exploitation of children worldwide:
Research shows that no country in the world is immune from individuals who seek to sexually exploit children through child pornography.
Ironically, while the world’s leading psychologists, criminologists, sociologists and law-makers are still pondering if internet pornography actually has the corrosive power to trigger sex-related crimes; the United States Department of Justice had stated in 2016 that the expansion of the Internet has led to an explosion in the market for child pornography.
In his 2016 book "Criminology: Theories, patterns and typologies," eminent writer Larry Siegel, had revealed:
Every second, some 28,258 American users were watching pornography on the internet. And every second, an amount of $3,075.64 was being spent on pornography on the internet. This amount is equivalent to$184,500 per minute and $11 million per hour!
About 40 million American people regularly visit porn sites. Approximately 35 per cent of all internet downloads are related to pornography.
Nearly 25 per cent of all search engine queries are related to pornography, or about 68 million search queries a day.
One third of porn viewers are women.
Search engines get 116,000 queries every day related to child pornography.
Around 34 per cent of internet users have experienced unwanted exposure to pornographic content through ads, pop up ads, misdirected links or emails. Over 2.5 billion emails sent or received every day contain porn.
Every 39 minutes, a new pornography video is being created in the United States. About 200,000.
The opinion of British Chief Justice, Lord Thomas:
In January 2015, the British Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, had stopped short of directly attributing blame of the murders of two young girls to pornography.
Lord Thomas had asserted that extreme internet pornography was causing rapists and murderers to commit worse crimes than before the time when such "horrific" material was available online.
The "Daily Telegraph" had reported: "Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice, told the House of Commons’ justice select committee that he had dealt with two deeply disturbing criminal cases which had been influenced – and intensified – by shocking internet pornography. He told MPs that he was in no doubt that in one case the offender’s actions had been made worse by what he watched online. The first of the two cases has left me in no doubt that the peddling of pornography on the internet has a tremendous effect on that individual."
Views of US Department of Justice on the subject:
In 2017, the US Department of Justice had observed: "The expansion of the Internet and advanced digital technology lies parallel to the explosion of the child pornography market. Child pornography images are readily available through virtually every Internet technology, including social networking websites, file-sharing sites, photo-sharing sites, gaming devices, and even mobile apps. These online communities have promoted communication and collaboration between child pornography offenders, thereby fostering a larger relationship premised on a shared sexual interest in children."
Gravity of the menace:
The gravity of this global menace can be gauged from the fact that in March 2011, the European Police or the Europol had arrested 184 alleged members out of 670 identified, of an online pedophile ring and rescued 230 children which is still considered as the biggest case of its kind.
Police of several countries in a joint mission called "Operation Rescue," had targeted an online network, whose server was based in the Netherlands with almost 70,000 members worldwide.
(References: The CNN and NBC News)
The American FBI's opinion in this context:
On April 25, 2017, the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had noted that producers and consumers of child pornography operated in the shadows, and anonymous Internet networks often allowed them to carry out their illicit activities without fear of being unmasked and caught.
It is noteworthy that 56 field offices of FBI conduct child abuse investigations with the help of American Child Exploitation Task Forces, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and around 400 law enforcement partner organizations.
The FBI had held: "Rarely a week goes by in the United States that a child pornographer is not charged or sentenced for federal crimes related to the sexual exploitation of children."
The Interpol's viewpoint:
On its official website, the France-based International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) had viewed a few years ago that crimes against children were largely facilitated by the Internet.
The 94-year old Interpol, which facilitates international police cooperation, has maintained: "Not only can offenders distribute and access child abuse material more easily, but they can also come into direct contact with children – via chat rooms and social networking sites. "ex tourism" is a type of crime that involves the abuse of children in developing countries by people who travel there."
Pakistani society and the perils of the Internet:
For the Pakistani society, an ocean of knowledge and hazards both came together with the internet.
The January 2015 Google search trends for Pakistan had revealed that the country was on top of the list of most porn-searching countries, hence painting a shameful picture of an Islamic society otherwise bonded by religion, culture and tradition.
On June 15, 2013, the "Daily Mail" had reported that Pakistani internet users also topped Google searches for gay sex despite being one of the world's most homophobic countries.
It can, therefore, be safely assumed that since the arrival of the Internet and its byproducts like the social media networking websites including Facebook and Twitter etc, no Pakistani regime has ever paid heed to its ramifications and effects on the society at large.