Kasur child pornography ring: Lawyer accuses police of protecting culprits

Published: August 10, 2015
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Arrested gang members of a sexual abuse scandal stand in the police lockup as they speak to the media in Hussain Khanwala village on August 9, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Arrested gang members of a sexual abuse scandal stand in the police lockup as they speak to the media in Hussain Khanwala village on August 9, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Arrested gang members of a sexual abuse scandal stand in the police lockup as they speak to the media in Hussain Khanwala village on August 9, 2015. PHOTO: AFP Villagers gather at a house after the authorities announced a judicial inquiry into a massive child abuse scandal in Hussain Khanwala village, some 55 kms southwest of Lahore on August 9, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

KASUR: A lawyer for the victims of the Kasur child porn scandal on Monday accused police of protecting the culprits, as activists warned the case was only the tip of the iceberg.

At least 280 children were filmed being sexually abused by a gang of 25 men who used the hundreds of videos they produced to blackmail the youngsters’ parents, according to Latif Ahmed Sara, a lawyer and activist representing the victims.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had ordered an independent judicial probe and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has vowed stern action against those responsible.

Read: Amid nationwide outrage, PM vows to punish culprits

More arrests in Pakistan child sex abuse scandal

Police on Monday arrested five more people over a major child sex abuse scandal after a lawyer for the victims accused them of protecting culprits, while activists said the case was just the tip of the iceberg.

The total number of suspects in custody stands at 12 following Monday’s arrests.

A police cover up? 

There are suggestions of a politically-influenced cover up. The village at the heart of the scandal, Hussain Khanwala, lies in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) party’s stronghold.

According to Latif Ahmed Sara, a lawyer and activist representing the victims, the police were dragging their feet in the case where some of the videos date back to 2007.

“The police are protecting the criminals, they are supporting them and have provided them an opportunity to escape the village,” Sara told reporters.

The head of Punjab’s Child Protection Bureau, Saba Sadiq, described the case as “the largest child abuse scandal in Pakistan’s history”.

But an initial police probe, carried out last week at the behest of the provincial government described the allegations as “baseless”, a conclusion immediately rejected by local media and rights activists.

Read: Police play down Kasur child porn scandal

District police chief Rai Baber Saeed told AFP officers were doing their best to catch those responsible, but accused activists and media of exaggerating the scale of the abuse.

He said the case was an old one, dragged up by a group of villagers as a tactic in a land dispute.

The gang allegedly attempted to extort money from parents of victims, selling clips of the videos locally for Rs40 (around 40 US cents) if they did not pay up.

“They made the video of my son in 2011 and we have been paying the blackmailers since then,” the mother of one of the victims, who did not want to be named, told an AFP reporter.

“I have seen the videos, they are disgusting,” she said.

Villagers told Reuters that a prominent family there has for years forced children to perform sex acts on video.

Rubina Bibi says her 13-year-old son was a victim, but when she tried to file a report at the Ganda Singh Wala police station a month and a half ago, “the police station clerk told me to get lost and I was thrown out.”

“My son … is in the videos, he is a victim,” she said. “Our children were forced into this. They were humiliated. But the police are treating them like criminals.”

Read: Eight members of Ganda Singh Wala pedophile group arrested: RPO

Another mother, Shakila Bibi, added: “I went to the police station to file a complaint, but instead of registering a (report), they took my son into custody.”

Her 15-year-old son is still in jail, she said.

Activists working to fight child sex abuse said the problem was widespread in Pakistan but difficult to quantify because victims were often unwilling to speak out.

Activist Mobeen Ghaznavi says many children were abused and that he had 130 video clips containing abuse.

“People are afraid. They are being threatened and intimidated,” he said.

Suraiya Bibi said that when she complained to police, her family was threatened by the abusers.

“One day some women in the village showed me these videos. My son was in them. My world collapsed,” she said.

“Kids were being intimidated in these videos with weapons, they were drugged. Kids as young as five years old were made to perform oral sex.”

In one clip seen by Reuters, a boy cowers and cries before putting his hands over the camera lens. In another, a groggy boy is beaten and abused as a man tells him, “I will not stop until you smile.”

Three 15-year-old boys told Reuters they were abused for several years. Two said they was threatened with weapons that included knife, an axe and a gun.

“He threatened me if I did not compromise, he would kill me on the spot,” one said.

One 18-year-old told Reuters he had been abused since he was 10. He stole cash and jewellery from his family after his abusers blackmailed him, he said.

“I was going to school one day when these boys picked me up and beat me up badly. Then they drugged me, and when I woke up, they showed me these videos they had made of me,” he said.

“They told me that they would bury me alive if I told anyone … I thought about killing myself every single day.”

Mumtaz Hussain from Sahil, Pakistan’s leading campaign group working against child abuse, told AFP there were more than 3,500 registered cases last year — representing nearly 10 children a day being abused.

But he said the true figure was far higher, perhaps as many as 10,000.

“Very few are reported because the victims and families are shy to disclose the sexual offence against them because of cultural, social and religious barriers,” he said.

“It is important to break the silence and challenge the taboo around it,” Minallah told AFP.

“How can a child be safe if he knows that his parents, the culture and societal norms expect him to remain silent to uphold the family’s ‘honour’?”

SHO Kasur supended

Meanwhile, SHO Kasur Mehar Akmal was suspended over involvement in child pornography case on Monday evening, Express News reported.

The suspended SHO allegedly used to make videos of complainants and would later on provide the abusers with these clips. He was also reportedly backing the gang.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (19)

  • citizen
    Aug 10, 2015 - 4:56PM

    I am just sickened to my gut reading all this . As a mom it breaks my heart to see all this horrible ordeal innocent kids had to go through . The monster culprits should be given exemplary punishment . Social media should make this viral . We have to be the agent of change .Recommend

  • Ozair
    Aug 10, 2015 - 6:12PM

    Arrest the PMLN MPA responsible for using his influence to shield these monsters from being captured in the first placeRecommend

  • Sodomite
    Aug 10, 2015 - 7:42PM

    “Rubina Bibi says her 13-year-old son was a victim, but when she tried to file a report at the Gandu Singh Wala police station a month and a half ago, “the police station clerk told me to get lost and I was thrown out.””

    How is her son going to get back his virginity?? Can SS or Sanaullah explain that?? Please close down Gandu Singh Wala Thana ????Recommend

  • Rollin & Trollin
    Aug 10, 2015 - 8:06PM

    If the police are indeed protecting some of the backstage big shot culprits, the army should take over and treat it as a crimes against humanity terrorist case.Recommend

  • Amir
    Aug 10, 2015 - 8:25PM

    The Punjab provincial Machinery right now is in full gear working to ensure a major coverup.

    the MNA/MPAs are corrupt and involved. Police is involved and accomplice. Probably the land barons of the area are involved.

    Till we have an educated class who have rights to protect them, this will continue. Am sure this is just a small part. How many more villages are there in Pakistan where this is going on????Recommend

  • Lolz
    Aug 10, 2015 - 9:39PM

    Everyone knows in Punjab who protects Police and how is this department used for political gains! I am surprised over media reporting for ignoring the fact that Rana Sanaullah tried to protect the criminals and minimize the magnitude of crime on TV channels, but still this Kasur case is being presented around 7 culprits only who are already in custody! This is not a normal child abuse case, this is an organized child trafficking ring, protected by the ruling PML-N! Recommend

  • ABC
    Aug 10, 2015 - 10:44PM

    Thank you Mian Saab!!!!Recommend

  • Rage
    Aug 10, 2015 - 11:21PM

    Just as a killer is hanged to gallows till death these culprits should be hanged two days after their reproductive organs are cut and they should not be provided with any medical aid for those two days… Give them extreme pain before they die… !!
    MNAs/MPAs we need some law here please..!! Stop protesting for/against your/other party leaders and spend your days chilling in the assemblies.. Do some legislation..thats what you guys are paid for..!!Recommend

  • Faqir Khan
    Aug 11, 2015 - 12:05AM

    Where are the HOLY KNIGHTS of human rights, liberalism and secularism, threatening fire, brimstone and choking at mouth over Swat Flogging Video?

    JUST A HORRIBLE SILENCE over Qasoor incident.

    Why not Military operation and drone attacks like Waziristan ?

    What if this was done by some from Tribal Area? Can we imagine the media storm?

    Swat Flogging Video was filmed in F-6 Islamabad in Samar Minullah Residence” So called woman right activist for paving the way for Swat operation and drone attacks and consuming funds in billions in Swat.

    Majority of analyst/experts/anchors doubted the creditability of Swat Flogging Movie on various technical reasons like sound, zooming, cloths, timing etc.

    Why so far witnesses or accused or accomplices are still unknown??

    Our nation has short term memory loss, while our fault lies in our history.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Aug 11, 2015 - 12:15AM

    This is disgusting and shameful.Recommend

  • Hunza Arooj
    Aug 11, 2015 - 12:17AM

    We are a shameless nation. These people should be hanged in public.
    The alleged criminals can not be blamed alone. If they were successful in selling this rubbish then this means the buyers are among us. Those who buy such staff are as much responsible for this crime as the arrested criminals are. Recommend

  • Ali S
    Aug 11, 2015 - 12:56AM

    Absolutely sickening. The complicit SHO should be thoroughly investigated and all his higher-up political connections exposed in the media – our leaders are patrons of child rapists, let that sink in.Recommend

  • a s h a m e d
    Aug 11, 2015 - 12:56AM

    strong textTHIS SHALL NEVER EVER HAPPEN AGAIN: IN PAKISTAN; IN ASIA OR IN THE WORLD.

    SHAME ON THOSE WHO COMIITED THIS CRIME. THIS COULD HAVE BEEN YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS, YOUR SISTERS, YOUR BROTHERS, YOUR CHILDREN… Recommend

  • Anon
    Aug 11, 2015 - 5:30AM

    @Lolz:
    Very very very true, What has become of our country that savages have the space open for them to do horrible, vile disgusting crimes. This has to come to a stop at all costs. Citizens of the country will have to force the government to enforce justice. There is no other way Recommend

  • Tanveer
    Aug 11, 2015 - 6:11AM

    Test case for Raheel Shareef, he has to prove that he is not Shareef.Recommend

  • vicktor d'souza
    Aug 11, 2015 - 7:10AM

    @Faqir Khan: I was thinking that myself. Seems like the HOLY KNIGHTS of human rights only come into action when they are boozed up in a neighboring country and let the drink do the talking, which amounts to badmouthing the country every which way ! Recommend

  • SK
    Aug 11, 2015 - 9:30AM

    Shahbaz has created a police state in Punjab and now that same draconian police is showing its true face…. this time it would be this police which will get them down not the ArmyRecommend

  • Zain
    Aug 11, 2015 - 10:40AM

    Last night Madame Marvi Memon was hopping and squirming on her seat while defending

    her Sharif masters on TV. The same woman used to curse Sharifs while being in Pervez regime.

    Question is why no anchorperson asks Sharifs and their toadies that this is
    Sixth 6th Sharif government in Punjab and police remain as corrupt and criminal like
    ever before, isn’t this the height of Sharifs’ incompetence??? Shouldn’t Sharifs be taken to task for the crimes and crimes’ patronage by Punjab police?
    Recommend

  • Lolz
    Aug 11, 2015 - 5:17PM

    @Zain: Dude you are very right. Unfortunately everyone in this country has a price to be sold out and these monster brothers pay the price! Tell me how many news channel that approached or tried to take these brothers live on telephone call to answer these questions?None! But they are inaccessible and unaccountable! Every single person will be infected with their venom soon and perhaps then they would realize!Recommend

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