Every day ten children are abused in Pakistan. In 2015, the Kasur child abuse scandal was brought to the forefront. Just about a year later in May 2016, a gang allegedly involved in a child sex and pornography case was arrested in the area of Mingora (Swat). In September 2016, the Kahuta child abuse and pornography scandal was reported. A recent addition to the list is the Sargodha child abuse scandal. Saadat Amin, the main suspect, was running an online pornography business for the last few years.

He lured children in by offering them computer education and paying the parents $50. However, despite the ongoing abuse, it was never reported. Pakistani police launched an investigation only after a tip off by the Norwegian embassy; which informed the police about catching a Norwegian national involved in child pornography and having accomplices in Pakistan. This reflects a gross failure on part of the police – neglecting to start investigations unless prompted from elsewhere is a dereliction of duty.

This is where we stand right now; a country blamed for being the home to terrorists and now being a hub of increasing child abuse. Law enforcement agencies, which are supposed to protect the citizens, are also accomplices in these acts. In the Kasur case, the police refused to take any action and blatantly granted favours to the suspects. Similarly, in the case of Saadat Amin, the police were using his hacking skills to catch other criminals. It is unfathomable that they were unaware of his activities.

During the year 2016, 2127 cases of child abuse were reported from across the country. According to a report by Sahil (a non-governmental organisation) there is a 36 percent increase in such incidents. While such statistics should be a cause for concern, Pakistani law makers refuse to treat the crime as a serious offence. The National Assembly rejected the ‘Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2016’ seeking to increase the magnitude of the penalty for the offenders – even discussing the issue in parliament is seen as taboo by most. It is not just one institution that is failing children currently – the government at large, law enforcement agencies and institutions are collectively responsible and must get their act together.