Sunday, August 9, 2015
Pakistani officials have initiated an investigation into allegations that a gang of men sexually abused more than 200 children and sold videos of the abuse
The accusations have rocked the country, drawing the attention and condemnation of human rights activists and politicians in a case that involved subjects long considered taboo here. At least 280 children under the age of 14 from three villages in eastern Punjab Province were said to have been subjected to sexual abuse by a gang of 15 men, who made videos to extort money from the children and their parents. Seven of the accused have been arrested, police officials said. The accusations of abuse started trickling out as victims began to report it to the police, and recently, hundreds of residents staged a protest, accusing the police and local politicians of protecting the gang members and ignoring the accusations. Some of the protesters clashed with the police, and dozens of people were injured, including several police officers. The gang members had drugged and intoxicated their victims, some as young as 6, and had recorded hundreds of videos. Some of the children stole jewelry and money from their parents to pay the men to stop them from making the videos public. Many of the videos were sold to buyers and pornographic websites overseas. The coverage prompted an outpouring of outrage on social media, especially on Twitter. Pedophilia remains a taboo subject in Pakistani society. Human rights activists say that child abuse is rampant in the country and that homeless children, as many as 1.5 million according to some estimates, are particularly vulnerable. Most of the victims and gang members are from Hussain Khan Wala, a dusty farming village in the Kasur District of Punjab Province, near the border with India and about an hour’s drive from Lahore, the provincial capital.