Activists call for legislation to curb child sexual abuse in Pakistan

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-04 08:15:33|Editor: WX
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ISLAMABAD, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Activists from children rights organizations on Thursday called on the government here to form laws and expedite backlog of cases pertaining to child sex abuse and child pornography in Pakistan.

Addressing a press conference here, the activists lamented that children sexual abuse is becoming an organized crime in the country, and should be addressed as a priority.

Recently brutal rape and murder of a three-year-old girl, Faryal, in the country's northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province sent shock waves to the whole country, making children rights activists and civil society to accentuate their demands on holistic legislation as well as rigid implementation of existing relevant laws.

Thursday's press conference was followed by a walk to seek justice for Faryal and other victims of children sex abuse in the country over the last five years.

Mumtaz Gohar, spokesperson of a children right organization Sahil, said that sex abuse is a social taboo in the country and most of the time people remain silent and do not take legal action against the offenders, as there are certain lacunae in the judicial system from which the offenders could seep through.

"Justice sometimes is delayed to four or five years, obliging the victim's families to go for out of court settlements," Gohar told Xinhua, adding that the government should put a ban on out-of-court settlements in such cases.

He suggested that judiciary should give verdict of such cases in less than a year so as to lend a sense of protection to victims' families and minimize chances of the out-of-court settlements due to the delayed justice.

Bashir Shah, Psychologist and Human Rights activist, said in the press conference that the government should launch awareness campaigns in schools to teach children about protecting themselves from offenders.

Speaking at the event, Kausar Abbas, executive director of a child rights organization Sustainable Social Development Organization, said that the number of child abuse cases in the country is rising, as an average 10 children were abused everyday from 2012-17 whereas in 2018 the number rose to 11.

Gohar said that laws against child abusers were revised and were made more stringent in 2016 when the country's upper house passed a bill that criminalized sexual assault against minors, child pornography and trafficking.

Under the revised legislation, raping a minor may land the offender for life in jail. Sexual assaults were made punishable by up to seven years in prison. Similarly, child pornography, which was previously not mentioned in the law was made punishable by seven years in prison and a fine of 0.7 million (about 5,000 U.S. dollars).