=> Child sexual abuse now reported to be on the rise
Child sexual abuse now reported to be on the rise has always been there, more prevalent in our suffocated rural milieu than in the cities where busy life, availability of other forms of entertainment together with growing small family norm lessen mixing of children with paedophiles among relatives and neighbours.
The reported increase in this kind of abuse is also due to gradual opening of society and lesser inhibitions in reporting such incidents. A major cause can also be the free availability of provocative and sexually explicit materials in the market as well as TV channels in combination with the growing level of violence in society in which children are the most vulnerable targets. Quite often the sexual pervert kills the child to hide his crime.
An incident of this nature involving rape followed by strangulation to death of a minor girl was revealed in Islamabad in November last when her body was accidentally found on the roof of a house in the I-10 Sector. She had been missing for nearly a month.
Apparently, the body had been dumped there several days earlier after the murder probably at some other place. The discovery was not due to any effort by the police but through sheer coincidence when the immediate neighbour of the poor girl climbed upstairs to the roof of his house after hearing the November 24 blast at Faizabad and accidentally trampling on her decomposed body. The man, a computer engineer by profession, got scared but then ultimately decided to inform the police.
The Sabzi Mandi police, in whose jurisdiction the body was found, collected the forensic evidence from the spot and shifted the girl’s remains to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) for identification of the body and investigation into the causes of death. It took the police no time to identify the girl and tracing her family.
The report of the poor girl’s disappearance had been registered at the same police station on October 25 on the complaint of her father, a chef by profession who had told the police that she had gone out from the house in the evening and had not returned. The family had searched for her in the neighbourhood but had been unable to find her. Their search, their fears and hopes were still alive when the news of her death and recovery of her body was broken to them by the police. The family was devastated by the tragic end of their small daughter.
They could not believe a minor child could meet such fate at the hands of a human being. The news frightened the entire neighbourhood. Children in Islamabad were not safe.
Police focused its inquiry on four persons including the landlord of the victim, Shahid Azeem, who had a dual nationality – Pakistan and Norway. It came to light that he was a paedophile and used to entice minor girls by offering them toffees. The residents of the street also informed the police about his involvement in mysterious activities.
However the tragedy had been revealed in the absence of the suspect who had left the country on November 14 for performing Haj, 10 days before the recovery of the body. Though he was on pilgrimage all evidences pointed towards him. The police had no option but to wait for his return. Meanwhile the police informed the Norwegian embassy to seize his passport as he was a suspect in a heinous crime.
The suspect was arrested at Islamabad Airport on December 25 when he arrived by a PIA flight PK-2502.
During interrogation the accused confessed his crime and told the police that he had given a Rs50 note to the child and asked her to bring cigarettes for him from a nearby shop. When she returned with the cigarettes he took the child to his room and raped her. Later he strangulated her to death when he saw her bad condition after her rape. After the murder he dumped her body on the roof of his neighbour’s house. The police recovered the sandals of the victim from his house and the bed sheet he had used for strangulating her.
The accused had been living in the house along with his mother, sisters and younger brother. On the day of the incident the family members of the accused had gone to Mandi Bahauddin to attend the death anniversary of his maternal grandmother. On the night of the incident the accused called his family and asked them to return as he was facing an emergency.
The accused had arrived in Islamabad 11 months ago leaving behind his wife and two children in Norway. The police said that they had information of his involvement in various crimes in Norway.
A report, published in Dawn’s August issue last year, had revealed a country-wide surge in child sex abuse from five cases daily in the first quarter of 2007 to seven in the second. The report was based on a survey conducted by Sahil, an Islamabad-based civil society organisation working against child sex abuse. The national rate recorded an increase of 24 per cent over this period. The report, based on data collected from 56 local and national newspapers, showed that 815 cases of child molestation were reported during April-June compared to 500 during January-March 2007, an increase of 315 cases in just 90 days. Among the abused children the number of girls was more than double of the boys. In all 1,315 children were reportedly abused. Of them the number of girls was 891 (68 per cent) against 424 boys (32 per cent). The nature of abuse ranged from abduction, rape, sodomy, gang rape and gang sodomy.
Details of the report showed no one could be trusted with the child as among the abusers were immediate family members, other relatives, friends, neighbours, maulvis, teachers, drivers, tailors, doctors, shopkeepers, policemen, spiritual healers and landlords.