ISLAMABAD: The government has introduced new legislation in the Senate to amend existing laws dealing with children’s rights and to impose in particular harsher punishments for child pornography.
The statement of objectives and reasons of the bill presented by Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, who also holds the portfolio of law, says, “The provisions provided in our criminal laws statutes fail to cover number of very serious offence against the person of a child like child pornography, exposure to seduction, sexual abuse, cruelty to a child and trafficking in human beings within Pakistan.”
“Existing laws are required to be harmonized with the world body’s (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child—UNCRC) standards,” it reads.
In Pakistan, there are no laws that deal specifically with the abuse of children or sexual abuse not involving penetration. There are only provisions regarding rape and sodomy thus penetration is necessary for the sexual abuse to be a punishable offence.
The amendments in the Pakistan Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure have been proposed while keeping in mind the international obligations and domestic realities, the bill says. “The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2015 is therefore proposed to be promulgated as an effort to harmonise our laws with the provisions of the UNCRC.”
Through the proposed legislation, the minimum age of criminal responsibility has been raised from seven years to ten years and the upper age limit from 12 to 14 years.
Exposure to seduction
A clause in the bill suggests that whoever seduces a child by any means whatsoever with an intent to involve him in any sexual activity or exposes him to obscene and sexually explicit material, document, a film, video or a computer generated image or attempts to do the aforementioned acts, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year and may extend up to seven years or with fine which shall not be less than Rs100,000 and may extend up to Rs500,000 or with both.
Punishment for child porn
The proposed act suggest that whoever commits an offence of child pornography shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than two years and may extend up to seven years, or fine which shall not be less than Rs200,000 and may extend up to Rs700,000 or with both.
In the penal code, a clause to deal with cruelty to a child has been inserted, according to which whoever willfully assaults, ill-treats, neglects, abandons or does an act of omission or commission, that results in or has potential to harm or injure the child by causing physical or psychological injury to him shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year and may extend up to three years.
This clause states that, “Whosoever involves himself in human trafficking shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years and may extend up to seven years, or fine which shall not be less than Rs500,000 and may extend up to Rs700,000, or with both.”
Meanwhile, sexual abuse states that anyone who employs, uses, forces, persuades, induces, or coerces any person to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in fondling, stroking, caressing, exhibitionism, voyeurism or any obscene or sexually explicit conduct would be liable to harsh punishment.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2015.