Rising number of child abuse cases worries police

Updated November 26, 2018

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As many as 1,109 cases of sexual offences against children under 10 years reported to police in Punjab till September.— AFP/File
As many as 1,109 cases of sexual offences against children under 10 years reported to police in Punjab till September.— AFP/File

RAWALPINDI: The number of child abuse cases (sexual offences against children under 10 years) reported to the police in Punjab till September this year stood at 1,109, worrying the police who have been directed by the government to treat the accused persons in such cases like those placed on the watch list of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

Anyone included in the watch list have to inform the respective police before leaving his hometown and upon his return.

The case record of all accused involved in child abuse cases - either in prison or released - should be kept with the concerned police station and compiled at the district headquarters level.

As many as 1,109 cases of sexual offences against children under 10 years reported to police in Punjab till September

Police have also been directed to seek a surety bond from such accused for their conduct.

Under the ATA 1997, every individual placed on the watch list or the fourth schedule is bound to inform the police before leaving their permanent resident and upon return. Surety bonds are also sought from such individuals for their peaceful conduct.

Police have also been directed to get help from Special Branch to carry out raids on bookshops, internet café and mobile phone shops selling obnoxious materials, naked pictures of child and videos. Inspector General of Police (IGP) Amjad Javeed Saleemi directed the police across the province to clearly mention ‘conviction in child abuse case’ if there had been any and also write down the reference of the child abuse case registered against any individual if the latter seeks a character certificate from the police.

The senior superintendent of police (SSP) or the superintendent of police (SP) investigation of every district will be the focal person for the investigation of child sexual abuse cases. Experts of Punjab Forensic Science Agency, who are available at each district, will ensure that all forensic evidences are collected.

The out-of-court settlement of such cases and dependence on only verbal evidence will be discouraged. If a mobile phone or any other electronic device is recovered from a suspect arrested in a child abuse case, it will be sent to the forensic science laboratory for analysis.

All the investigating officers dealing with such cases should behave politely with the heirs or parents of the victims of such crimes.

A police officer not less than the rank of sub-inspector should be assigned the investigation and attempts should be made with the assistance of prosecutions and judiciary to complete the trial.

During the trial of such cases, security of the victim and witnesses should be ensured.

The IGP directed the police to immediately register an FIR under the relevant section of the law after receiving a complaint about child abuse. And soon after such complaint is received, the victim and the accused, if arrested, should be shifted to hospital for medico-legal examination and details of torture marks and other evidence collected from the scene should be preserved carefully.

The IGP directed the divisional and district police chiefs to chalk out a strategy to check growing menace of child abuse cases.

Sexual abuse is a heinous crime which creates fear and panic in the society and its impact can last a lifetime. In most of the cases, sexual abuse is not reported to the police or prosecuted due to social stigma. Due to unreported abuse of children crimes, the police can’t maintain the figure of such crimes.

The IGP asked the police to chalk out such a strategy under which children could be protected against abuse.

A senior police official told Dawn that two women police officers had been assigned the task to launch an awareness campaign in schools and colleges about exploitation of children.

When District Officer Child Protection Bureau (CPB) Ali Abid Naqvi was contacted, he said the bureau dealt with street children and begging and played a limited role in the protection of victims of sexual offences and torture.

He said the CPBR provided legal and medical aid to the victims of sexual abuse and also took legal custody of torture victims.

“If such cases of child abuse come to our notice, we provide them counseling,” he said, adding checking sexual offences against children was the job of the police.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2018