LAHORE: After child pornography and assault-cum-serial killing of children in Kasur, another scandal of trafficking of minor girls for prostitution has emerged in the city.
An officer of the Child Protection Welfare Bureau (CPWB) told The Express Tribune that a team of the bureau received information about ‘sale’ of two minor girls in Shareef Pura Mohalla for prostitution. The site is just two kilometres away from City Pattoki Police Station.
The team along with police secured a search warrant of three victims and conducted a raid.
“We have recovered two girls, one is aged 12 and the other is three and a half years old,” he added. However, one of the suspects managed to flee from the scene with the third victim.
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The initial investigations revealed that the victims had been bought for the purpose of prostitution, he added. The CPWB registered an FIR of the incident under 371 (prostitution) and other sections of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
The officer added that the first victim was staying with a woman identified as Zahida Parveen.
“Her husband Akram had purchased the victim about five years back from an old man living somewhere on Depalpur Road for Rs50,000,” the officer revealed. Police have arrested Akram. However, they were searching for the old man, he added.
A suspect identified as Manzooran Bibi had bought the other minor girl from a midwife for Rs80,000.
The midwife had taken the child from a Christian couple, the initial investigations revealed. The authorities had yet to search for the parents of the victim to precede the investigations, he added.
The officer raised serious reservations about the role of authorities in cases of sexual violence against children across the country, Kasur in particular.
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“The local authorities especially police should have been more vigilant after the case of Zainab and Hasnain Khanwala pornography scandal. However, the situation was opposite,” he added. He also complained of non-cooperation by the local police.
However, SHO Saqlain Bukhari denied any such allegations. He said they were taking action according to law. “We also fully cooperated in the operation for recovery of the victims,” he added.
Sexual violence against minors is a serious issue in Pakistan. The issue gained national attention after flashing of child pornography scandal in Hasnain Khanwala village and murder of at least eight girls by a suspect Imran Ali in Kasur.
Despite this abysmal state, the situation is worsening with each passing day. A report by Sahil organisation revealed that child sexual abuse cases in Pakistan had increased from nine cases per day in 2017 to 12 cases per day in the first six months of 2018.
The report named ‘Cruel Numbers’, containing data from January to June 2018, has been compiled by Sahil, an NGO working for the protection of children against violence.
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This year from January to June, a total 2,322 child abuse cases were reported in newspapers from all four provinces including Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan. The six-month data showed that out of the total reported cases, 1,298 (56%) of the victims were girls and 1,024 (44%) were boys.
The report, quoting newspaper articles, stated that the major crime categories of the reported cases from the first half of 2018 are 542 case of abduction, 381 cases of sodomy, 360 cases of rape, 236 cases of missing children, 224 cases of attempt of rape, 167 cases of gang sodomy, 112 cases of attempt of sodomy, 92 cases of gang rape and 53 cases of child marriages.
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The data also revealed that children in the age brackets of 6-10 and 11-15 are most vulnerable to abuse.
Provincial statistics show that 65% cases were from Punjab, 25% cases from Sindh, 3% cases from Islamabad, 3% cases from K-P, 2% cases from Balochistan, 21 cases from AJK and 2 cases were reported from Gilgit-Baltistan.
Out of the total reported cases, 74% were from rural areas and 26% cases reported from urban areas.
Report statistics also showed that 89% of the cases were registered with the police. In 32 incidents the police refused to register the cases, 17 cases were unregistered with the police and the registration status of 196 cases was not mentioned in newspapers.