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Why Kasur has a controversial past

Zainab’s case is a grim reminder of the agony of over 300 children

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Zainab Ansari

Islamabad: The rape-murder of seven-year-old Zainab has shocked the nation and especially provoked the people of the Punjab district Kasur, which has seen many cases of child abuse recently. The three regions of Punjab, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura and Kasur, have recorded 111 cases of sexual assault against minors in 2017 — the highest in the country.

Zainab’s case is a grim reminder of the agony of over 300 children, mostly boys aged between 10 and 15 years, who, for seven long years, were subjected to sexual abuse and videotaped in 2015.

The parents of the victims were too afraid to report the matter to police as the abusers threatened to sell the video clips and extorted money from the families. Media reports suggested that the child abuse gang was linked to the ruling PML-N Member of Parliament, which is why no immediate action was taken by the police — until the story was highlighted by media. The government then took notice, but the main culprits escaped capital punishment due to the “lack of evidence”.

“No action was ever taken on an earlier report on Kasur child abuse that was submitted by the commission to the relevant authorities,” said a National Commission on Human Rights (NHCR) report.

The report added: “Efforts to tackle child abuse are still short, and setting up of a preventive mechanism for child protection on the district level is still inept and unclear.” The committee concluded that both the crime prevention mechanism and social protection mechanism failed in taking solid steps to curb child abuse in the district.

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