Lahore - "The whole nation cries for this sin. It is a sin that makes us feel ashamed. Let us try to find the courage to take all the necessary measures and to protect the lives of our children in every possible way, so that these crimes are never repeated": these are the heartfelt words of the Archbishop of Islamabad Joseph Arshad, President of the National Commission "Justice and Peace" , which intervened to strongly condemn the rape and murder of Zainab, a seven-year-old girl, found in a landfill in Kasur. The episode caused anger and pain throughout the country. In a note sent to Agenzia Fides, the Commission firmly calls for the government of Punjab to take severe action against perpetrators and launch serious political measures to protect children.
"Pakistan once again has failed to protect its children. According to international reports, Pakistan is the eleventh country in the world with the highest rate of child abuse or sexual violence, with 2,500 cases each year. 11 cases of child sexual abuse are recorded every day. Kasur, a city adjacent to the provincial capital of the Punjab province, has become the center of massive sexual violence against minors since 2014 and 2015, estimating over 3,500 cases of child abuse in 2014 alone, of which 67% in rural areas": this is the disturbing data released by the Justice and Peace Commission that strongly condemns the rape and murder of Zainab.
The note sent to Fides by the Commission recalls: "In 2015 the biggest child abuse scandal was registered in Kasur, in Pakistan: 25 criminals promoted cases of extreme pedophilia and child pornography for 10 years. With regards to child protection, in 2017 there were 1,764 cases of pedophilia in Pakistan and 12 cases of rape and murder of girls aged between 5 and 8 in Kasur".
The recent tragic case of kidnapping, rape and murder of Zainab is one of these 12 cases: the police are investigating and questioning 272 suspects "reaching the conclusion of the involvement of a serial killer". The Commission asks the competent authorities to "take into consideration all other cases related to child abuse and bring those responsible to justice for exemplary punishment".
Among the proposals sent to the institutions, the Commission points out: the Office for the protection of minors should be active at a district level throughout Pakistan, defining its role, responsibility and function; cases of missing children and abduction of minors should be given priority by law enforcement; the government should form a judicial commission to develop adequate legislation to address the issue of child abuse and child pornography.
The Bishop's Commission concludes: "Children are the future of our nation: the government must abide by its social, moral and international commitments to the rights of the child. We hope that the government will seriously address the issue and work for the protection and security of all children throughout Pakistan". >>