THE sentencing of two perpetrators in last year’s Kasur child sexual abuse case to life imprisonment has set a long-awaited precedent.
Although the sentencing will not bring to a halt the activities of prolific pornography rings operating underground, reportedly with the collusion of a section of law-enforcement officers and political patrons, it has sent a strong message to those who perpetrate such abuse: the state will punish those found guilty.
At the time that the Kasur atrocity came to light, rape and sodomy were legally punishable; however, hundreds of pornographic videos of children had been circulated under the very nose of the district police. The Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2016, that was passed last month by the Senate, is more specific.
The law criminalises child trafficking and pornography and cites punishment for sexual abusers of children.
The recent conviction is a reminder of the agony of over 280 children, aged between 10 and 15 years, who, for seven long years, were subjected to sexual abuse and videotaped.
They were too afraid to report on their abusers who extorted money from their families, or else sold the video clips.
Even after a crime of this nature, the authorities have yet to set up a national commission on child rights to monitor and coordinate legislative implementation. Being too ill equipped to crack down on abuse of this kind is simply not an option.
If specialised laws fill the statutory books, there is no excuse for not implementing them.
This was one case that mercifully came to light. With the law enforcers unwilling to go after those who sexually abuse young children — sometimes colluding with the perpetrators themselves — the extent of the crime can only be imagined.
How come our usually seething politicians have not worked harder to protect our children after the horrific events at Kasur? Surely, the government must reassess its commitment to the welfare and safety of its young population and focus on a national campaign that advocates for child rights.
Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2016