In another incidence of child abuse, the local police in Swat have arrested a key member of a gang allegedly involved in a child sex and pornography ring. With the case of the Kasur child sexual abuse horror, just around the corner, it is all the more important for civil society and the media to keep reminding the state about this monstrous crime.

A few days ago, the police arrested the suspect, Aurangzeb, on a tip-off provided by a 13-year-old boy, who was kidnapped by the group in 2014. The boy claimed that some policemen were also involved in the crime as they would ‘come there and fulfill their lust’. The suspect was caught while having sex with a boy aged 14. Handcuffs and chains were also recovered from the residence.

The unearthing of the case has fuelled public outcry with civil society groups and residents demanding of the provincial government and police to take strict action against the perpetrators. However, the efforts that exist to eradicate child abuse are largely piecemeal, taken by NGO’s or a concerned group of citizens rather than by the state. The reports, the seminars, the discussions that took place in the immediate aftermath of Kasur have, in sum, failed to make an impact and motivate a change in the way Pakistani society deals with the issue of sexual abuse. In most cases, after the media storm blows over, the police and social setup goes back to its default position of abuse. Many of the suspects get out on bail once the cameras leave, and money or intimidation is used to silence the victims.

We do not have the criminal investigation capabilities to apprehend and punish the perpetrators, or the psychological services to rehabilitate the victims. We even lack the jargon to talk about the issue. There is no way to avoid these crimes without education and open discussion. There must be sex education in the schools, in a way appropriate to our society. Children need to be warned of such horrors. Paedophilia is a perversion, yet in Pakistan, it is so pervasive, that it can’t even be classified as a mental illness. Boys are normally the victims, as women and girls are mostly kept at home, and unavailable as targets. Religious parties and organisation could be vehicles to teach better morals, but their track record, with opposing bills that can protect women from abuse and encouraging underage marriage, does not inspire much confidence.