Karachi, August 10 (PPI): The horrifying cases of sexual child abuse in Ganda Singh Wala, Punjab has been unearthed, which according to Saba Sadiq, the head of Punjab’s Child Protection Bureau is the “largest ever child abuse scandal in Pakistan’s history” with 280 minor victims and over 25 abusers.
Around 400 videos of the victims from a village in Kasur were abused were made and then sold. The videos were also used to blackmail the victims and their families, writes Sana Ali for PPI news agency. So far seven have been arrested in relation to the case.
The news of the sheer scale at which this case of child abuse was taking place led to strong reactions from individuals across the country, citizens and politicians alike. The Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, ordered a judicial inquiry into the scandal and condemned the act stating that “those involved in the case will be severely punished”. Other political parties have also voiced their condemnation against the case. Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the PPP, described the reports as “very disturbing”. During a rally, Imran Khan, PTI chairman said that his party would raise the issue in the National Assembly. According to Siraj ul Haq of Jamaat -i- Islami (JI), the suspects should be tried in military court.
Civil society organizations have also expressed strong condemnation.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan ( HRCP) dismissed the formation of the judicial commission and added “The plight of these children deserves nothing less than a prompt and professional investigation—which must be free from interference and influence—and prosecution. All attempts made to suppress or twist the information—and there have been many—should be strongly condemned and must also be probed.”
Many citizens took to social media websites such as Twitter to show their support for the victims and urged the government to take action against the accused. Pakistani filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy expressed her sentiments on Twitter saying, “Sickened beyond belief but not surprised-child abuse is rampant in #pakistan”.
According to a BBC report, statistics show that around 3,500 cased of child molestation were reported in Pakistan during 2014, out of which 67% were reported from rural areas. Child abuse is a prevalent crime in Pakistan yet it is often unreported being considered a taboo topic. The Ganda Singh Wala scandal of child abuse is the latest case and considered to be the largest such case in the history of Pakistan. It has led to strong reactions across the country with citizens demanding action against the abusers.
While there has been an outpouring of condemnation against the abuse of these children, officials in Punjab have down played the scale of the abuse claiming that only seven cases of abuse were registered with the police so far. Rana Sanaullah, Punjab’s Law Minister said that the scandal had been created by parties who were involved in a land dispute undermining its’ scale and credibility.
Despite varying accounts of the number of victims, the pressure on the government to take action against the accused is mounting. HRCP urged the authorities to show more commitment to implementing the recommendation made to Pakistan by the Committee on the Rights of the Child on prevention of abuse and exploitation of children and also the relevant child-specific recommendations that Pakistan had accepted and agreed to implement during its second universal periodic review in 2012.