CHILDREN already have a rough deal in this society, but frequent cases of child abuse point to a deep sickness that is simply not being treated. Along with the physical world, digital spaces are also highly dangerous for minors, as the horrific number of images of child exploitation uploaded to Facebook indicate. According to the FIA director general as well as officials of Meta, which owns Facebook, over 2m explicit images of children were uploaded from Pakistan in 2021. Speaking at a seminar in Karachi on Thursday, the FIA DG said that over the last five years only 343 cases related to indecent pictures of children have been reported. This indicates that much greater action from the state, social media companies, as well as the public, is required to punish the criminals involved in these horrific crimes, and protect youngsters from abuse.
It was thought that after the shocking 2015 Kasur child pornography scandal and the brutal murder of little Zainab, who was abducted from the same city, state and society would have taken firm action against child abusers. Sadly, perhaps because children are so low on our priority list, after the initial rage few tangible actions, apart from the enacting the Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery law, have been taken to protect minors, as the massive number of exploitative images cited above indicates. There can simply be no lethargy when it comes to child safety. Social media firms and law-enforcement must respectively take down these images immediately, and track down those responsible for uploading them. There needs to be a concerted effort involving all major social media firms, including Meta, Google, TikTok etc, because child safety is everyone’s issue. The gangs involved in these heinous crimes must be smashed and given exemplary punishment, while exploited children and their families should be given professional care to help them deal with the trauma of abuse. Moreover, the #ReportDontShare campaign needs to be supported by the public, so that crimes against children can be duly reported to the authorities, and those involved punished.
Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2022