PESHAWAR: An alarming increase in sexual assaults on young girls and boys, their murder and in many cases filming these incidents to blackmail them has become a challenge for the law-enforcement agencies as well as the society as a whole.
A series of incidents were reported during the last few weeks in which young boys and girls were sexually assaulted. In some cases, the victims died of torture as the assailants wanted to get rid of any evidence of the crime. The latest incident was the brutal murder of a seven-year-old boy from Haripur who was strangled after being sexually abused by a close relative.
“We have arrested the accused who is also in his late teens. He is a close relative and also lives nearby. He told police that he killed the child to keep his crime secret,” District Police Officer (DPO) Zahidullah Jan told The News.
According to the official, five such incidents were reported in Haripur in the last five months. “All the accused have been arrested. All of them are either close relatives or neighbours. Almost all of those who sexually assaulted children recently were found to be already known to the victims being their trusted ones,” said Zahid Jan.
In December, a grade-3 female student was assaulted and murdered in Nowshera district. The police later arrested the accused who happened to be a friend of the father of the nine-year-old victim, whose body was recovered from a graveyard. There is another alarming trend in these incidents in which the attackers film the victims during the crime to use it for blackmailing in future.
In one such incident in Battagram district, a 14-year-old orphan boy committed suicide on March 14 after two locals abused him, filmed the crime and continued to blackmail him through it.
Police later arrested two accused with the help of the relatives and elders of the village and properly charged them with the assault and blackmailing. Investigators were told the victim was under severe mental stress as the accused were blackmailing him after abusing him last year.
“There have been a number of such incidents in which the assailants later blackmailed the victims, not only young girls and boys but even women, through the videos and photos. The practice has ruined the lives of so many people and families,” a source told The News.
The Cyber Crime Wing of the Federal Investigation Agency recently worked out a few cases in which the accused blackmailed women and men through putting their videos and photos on social media. One accused was arrested on the information of Interpol Spain in November last year for allegedly putting videos of sexual abuse of children and others.
A large number of cases, however, are never reported to the FIA or police for the sake of honour and other social issues.
There are several child abuse cases in which the accused are yet to be arrested. “Three-year-old Faryal was found to have been raped and killed in a Jungle near Kayala village in December last year. Her body was shifted to Havelian Hospital,” a popular artist, writer and teacher Nadia Jamil posted on Twitter on March 18. She said the family still awaits justice even three months after the murder.
“Please today take the courage to see what our silence is doing. Let’s all fight hard to stop child sex abuse. Countless children are buried, unnamed, unknown. Countless survive. Justice and systems need to be put in motion. The solution, no more abuse, is required,” Nadia further added.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had taken notice of the murder of the young girl and ordered police to arrest the accused at the earliest. “As per the data of Sahil organization, the child sexual abuse cases in Pakistan have increased from nine incidents per day in 2017 to 12 cases daily in the first six months of 2018.
According to this report, from January to June 2018, the total numbers of sexual abuse cases from the country are 2,322 in which 3 per cent cases are from KP,” Imran Takkar, a child rights activist from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told The News.
He added that there were at least 222 cases of sexual abuse against children reported in KP between May 2011 and December 2017 as per the statistics released by the KP Child Protection and Welfare Commission. Since then, there is no report or data shared by any organisation, he added.
A campaign has recently been launched to educate children about how to avoid unfriendly touch. The parents and children (and also teachers) are told that in most of the sexual assault cases, the accused are normally relatives and neighbours who should be reported immediately and the kids must be taught how to protect themselves in any such situation.
A popular Pashto singer, Nazia Iqbal, had accused her real brother of assaulting her daughter during her absence. She said he had brought her brother to take care of her kids as she used to be out of the town in connection with concerts.
The singer recently stated in a video that she is happy to see her brother has been convicted by a local court. The accused in the assault and murder of four-year-old Asma from Mardan was also a neighbour.
A 24-year-old killer Imran Ali, who was involved in the rape and murder of a six-year-old girl in Kasur Zainab Ansari and many other girls, was also living in the neighbourhood of the victim. Zainab’s incident was the first one that was highlighted by the media and social media that pressured the government to arrest and award death sentence to the accused.