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26 June 2019

Kasur Incident - Did we learn anything?

Mamtaz Hussain Gohar
The writer is a freelance journalist based in Islamabad

The Kasur Scandal is by all means a heart aching incident. Anyone with a conscience condemns such incidents, but this particular incident has left a number of questions and lessons to all of us to ponder upon.

This incident has on one hand decorated the flaws in the responsibilities of the parents and on the other hand it also brings the shortcomings in the fulfillment of the responsibility of the individuals in a society such as law enforcing agencies, teachers, civil society and relatives etc… it is now the need of the hour that all the socializing agencies including parents and teachers must ponder upon the fulfillment of their responsibility towards the protection of the future generation.

The scandal has revealed on us that we need to be prepared to prevent such incidences from taking place. Some reports generated after the incident show that many of the victim’s parents did not have any awareness on prevention of sexual abuse and neither did any of them know about the steps those were necessary to be taken after the incident was disclosed to them. That is why it took years for the parents and the victims to speak up against the culprits. Parents preferred to fulfill the demands of the abusers to avoid the disclosure of their child’s case and this strengthened the abusers status in the society and in return the number of incidents went on hiking up year by year.

If we look at the Kasur scandal the services provided by the police and law enforcing agencies was insufficient to cater the issue. Particularly the local police appeared to be sluggish and ignorant. Some reports also revealed that some of the abusers had support from the police which resulted in the prolongation of the heinous crime without any fear of check and balance for years and this is also revealed in the report by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT). After the scandal was exposed many parents tried to lodge FIRs against the culprits but the police themselves threatened and hindered their way in lodging their reports.

This is encouraging that the JIT has declared the video clips attained from the abusers as genuine and has nominated 7 government officials and 17 others responsible in the case. During the investigation of the case the JIT has also identified nine children who have been sexually assaulted and filmed. During the investigation the JIT documented the interviews of 400 people from the village.

 These interviewees were parents, victims, police officials, witnesses and the residents of the village. The JIT has proposed strict legal action against the 17 identified culprits and has written letters to the relevant departments for action against the 7 government officials.  It is now time to wait and see the trial of the nominated culprits.

Sahil Cruel Numbers Report 2014 shows that out of the total 3508 cases that reportedly took place in the country, 56% of the cases were reported from the province of Punjab.  It is a matter of concern that the province does not have any comprehensive law on child protection which could directly deal with such issues. Although the Punjab neglected and destitute children act and the existence of child protection welfare bureau in Punjab province is perceived as a comprehensive child protection system but the reality is that this body solely deals with homeless , begging and street children.

On the other hand Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Act 2010 and the Sindh Child Protection and Welfare Act 2011 are in place with the respective provinces and can be implemented but the state of children in these provinces is not better than other provinces those lack the relevant laws. This shows that despite the existence of relevant laws their non implementation is our major issue, especially the delays in FIR registration, or refusal of registration of FIRs or not registering the FIRs due to pressure from any influential figures from the society.

The existence of laws related to children is just the initial step towards the protection of children but it is more important that the implementation of such laws is ensured.

The Kasur Scandal urges us to enact all the pending bills related to children and implement them in letter and spirit, so that we can save our coming generations from falling victim to similar incidents.