Lest we forget

Updated 24 Aug 2015

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IN Pakistan, it is easy to forget even the ghastliest of tragedies due to the unrelenting nature of the news cycle. With terrorism, corruption and disasters — both natural and man-made — dominating the headlines, other issues, of equal importance, often recede into the background.

This also seems to be the case with the Kasur child sexual abuse horror. Which makes it all the more important for civil society and the media to keep reminding the state about this monstrous crime.

In this regard, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has done well by conducting a fact-finding probe into the matter. What the HRCP found should prompt the state to speed up its investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice without delay.

Take a look: Credible proofs of child sexual abuse in Kasur

The report says it received “credible testimonies” that pointed to years of “large-scale sexual abuse of children” in Kasur’s Husain Khanwala village.

The team also found that the victims’ families had been intimidated to keep quiet after the abuse was filmed and were forced to pay extortion money to the perpetrators. What should be of particular concern to the state’s investigators are indications that some of the local police officials were apparently in collusion with the criminals.

The violation of even a single child is unacceptable; in this case possibly 300 children were sexually abused and humiliated — some as young as 10 — over a five- to six-year period.

Hence, considering the magnitude of this outrage, it would be simply unforgivable for state and society to let this crime go unpunished.

The joint investigation team formed by the Punjab chief minister needs to dig deep and conduct a detailed, transparent investigation. If an independent human rights body was able to uncover such details, there should be nothing stopping the state — with all the resources at its disposal — to get to the bottom of the matter.

However, care must be taken so that the victims’ identities are not made public and their privacy is protected. Additionally, the state must provide the victims with qualified medical and psychological help.

Tragedies occur and, after the initial shock, are soon forgotten. But we must not let the Kasur outrage recede into the background.

Justice demands that the criminals who violated these children are brought to book while the administrative and law-enforcement machinery across this nation needs to be shaken up to crack down on the abuse and sexual assault of minors — which is by no means a limited phenomenon in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2015

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