PAKISTAN: Fact finding report of child abuse scandal

A three-member team of Women In Struggle for Empowerment (WISE) visited the town of Hussain Khan Wala, Kasur district on 11 August 2015 to gather facts and assess the situation on ground regarding the child sex abuse scandal that has recently surfaced. The team, headed by Bushra Khaliq, the Focal person of Anti-Torture Alliance Pakistan, met community members, parents, and relatives of the victims and documented the account of the field visit. Below are some field notes and impressions:

The incidents of sexual abuse were confirmed. Videos of the victims and perpetrators were found viral in the village. Everybody was well aware of the incident.

The victims particularly, and local people generally, were afraid of the accused and still fear that they might be released and would settle the score.

People are scared to send their children to schools. The trend of decrease in attendance of students in private schools was very much evident. The government schools were already closed on account of summer holidays.

The real number of victims may be in hundreds. The number of boys claiming to be victims is increasing. To ascertain the exact number of victims however, is difficult at the moment.

The accused, four brothers, their father and three uncles from Mahar (Arian), brothers, are the real culprits. The entire village, even the street people speak against them. They are influential and politically well connected.

Local political leaders, administration and Police were initially in open support of the culprits, however, now they are supporting them secretly.

The child victims are mentally disturbed. Some families left this area. Community behavior towards the victims is very sympathetic, but they need comprehensive trauma counseling. There is need of treatment for children, parents and their environment.

Many people come from adjacent villages to show their solidarity with the victims’ families and to highlight the grief and to demand justice for the children.

The team also met some of the families and victims of child sexual abuse from other areas. Below are some of their stories recorded, as told by the mothers and fathers of the victims.

Mr. MB, father of a child
His son Master A was 9 years old (now 15) when sexually abused. He never shared his agony with anyone until the breaking of this ugly incident through video. “We came to know about this just 2 months ago, when a man shared a video with me. I was surprised to see my son in this video. I came back home & asked A. But he denied, then I showed him the video and he accepted”.His father Mr. MB took him into confidence and encouraged to share what happed to him. “Some six years ago, the perpetrators trapped me and took me in a house, a bit far from the village. They gave me injection & abused”, father quoted his son. 
Now I can recall why my son stopped taking interest in education and then left the school from class IV. He also stopped participating in social activities & gathering.

We have filed FIR against them. We demand to CM to hang them.

Ms. SB, mother of victim (I )

“His son I was 9 years old & was in 5th class when abused. Now (I), son of a laborer, is 14 years old & in 9th class. He was abused 15-20 times but we came to know only couple of months ago. The perpetrators developed 3 videos of my son. He told us that perpetrators threated him to kill and blackmailed to give them money; otherwise, they would share his video with others.

Mostly abused children are from local govt. and private school & madrasas. They also made videos of girls’ child. To trap girls they entered in school in wearing Burqa. Two watchmen at girl school are close relatives of the perpetrators. But we all have decided that we would not file complaints of girls. We don’t want further stigmatization of the families. People guess there are about 280 cases but there I think it is more than that. Once they abused a child, videoed him and blackmailed him to pay money & bring some other child also.

We have filed an FIR with Police. We demand they should be dismissed from govt. jobs, CM should hang them at the main square of this village, sale their land to compensate the victims and their families. Police recovered drugs, injections & arms from their place (Daira).”

Mr. EM, father of (WA)

“My son WA was in 9th Class when he was abused. To give money to the perpetrators WA used to steal gold jewelry & Rs. 25000/- from home. We were puzzled on repeated incidents of theft from our home. Two years ago when we found it was our own son stealing the family valuables, I dismissed him from property & home.

We came to know just 4 days ago when I saw his video & now I realized that my son was in great distress and trouble and stole the jewelry to pay the accused. We don’t know where he is now. We did not saw him from last 2 years. Now I am trying my best to found my son. We have information that children from adjacent villages were also abused. We demand that the all accused should be hanged.”

Ms. SB, mother of AD

“His son AD was 12 years old when abused by Mehar gang. Now he is 18 years old & in 10th class. My son is much afraid of those criminals. They threatened AD to kill or share the ugly video of his if he did not give them money.

The culprits’ have earned millions by selling out videos to porn mafia in other countries. Within Pakistan they sell each video @Rs. 1500/.

Police is supporting the accused party. When we went to police station Ganda Singh, SHO said that it is not a case & you people can go. We want justice. The accused must come in witness box & should be hanged in the chowk of our village so the other people get a lesson. We are afraid if police released them they will kill us.”

Mr. A, Grandfather of (S)

“S is now 14, and he was subjected to sexual abuse in 2011 when he used to study in class IV in local govt. school. He was abused several times in the last 4 years, but we never knew until the break of the news some two months back. The moment this video scandal become public, S. left home without telling anybody. Meanwhile we also came to know about the whole incident. Whenever we tried to call him at his cell, he disconnected the phone. 
After 2-month long hectic efforts we could manage to trace him from Sherakot Lahore, where he was working on a tractor as driver. When we were travelling back to village, I told him I know what happened to you, don’t worry, I am with you. S burst into tears and said the perpetrators threatened me to kill and blackmailed me to give them money, otherwise they would tear my honor into pieces by disclosing the videos. S is still not stable, still scared and don’t like to see relatives.

Now when I connect the dots I can well imagine why he quit school in 2011 seemingly without any reason and started helping me in my work. We have a good business with three tractor trolleys and he soon learnt to drive the tractor. Our daily income is handsome and whatever we earn daily used to deposit in a Ghara (Big clay pot) concealed at a safe place at home. I always doubted that despite our continuous savings our income was not increasing. Now when everything is open, S admitted that he used to steal money to meet the frequent demands of the culprits. Mr.A is grandfather and guardian of S after his father died many years ago. We demand justice, hang the culprits in the public “

Views of the Local Activists 
However, the local social activists (on condition of anonymity) said that actual situation is even worse than what media is presenting. Police was discouraging the people. Along with Mobeen (local activist) we mobilized & encouraged the parents of victims to take stand. All influenced persons including law Minister, Station House Officer (SHO), Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), District Police Officer (DPO), Regional Police Officer (RPO), Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) and Member of National Assembly (MNA) are in support of accused party. Mubeen is facing threat from accused & police through phone calls. Accused persons fired on his house. Police illegally detained him and later released on public protest.

This ugly business was on since 2008 but nobody knows about it. On 30th June 2015, a video was leaked by an accrued in response of any conflict between them. 15 FIRs have been filed and 78 applications are ready to file in police station. Accused and police are threatening the victims’ families and supporters. Before this incident this village was very peaceful. Village population is about 6000. There are 2 government schools-one boys and one girls govnment high school and three private schools. Enrollment of boys high school is 500-550.

The Accused persons
According to local activists, the main culprit Tanzeel Ur Rehman, works as senior clerk in Lahore High court. He is uncle of accused, who started this ugly work some 20 years back. They all have very costly mobiles & tablets to make videos. They used to supply these videos in foreign countries. They have an office at Faisal Town Lahore. Four nephews of Tanzeel are also involved. They are young between 17-27 years. Two of them are married.

Names of alleged culprits: 
1. Yahya, employee at Water and Power Authority (Wapda)
2. Tanzeel Ur Rehman, Senior clerk at Lahore High Court and main accused person
3. Ateeq Ur Rehman
4. Saleem Akhtar Shirazi, Drug Inspector at Health Department government of Punjab,  Sheikhupura
5. Waseem Shahzad (Son of Yahya, the influential person of the area)
6. AleemAsif (Son of Yahya)
7. Naseem Abid (Son of Yahya)
8. Haseem Aamir (Son of Yahya)

General public opinion: 
WISE fact finding team also met with youth community members of the Hussain Wala Village. They demanded that all the culprits involved in this horrible incident must be arrested and must be punished with rigorous punishments.

They said we are not satisfied with the police performance; still the police is struggling to protect the culprits. They told the village Hussain Wala was a good reputed village and the people from surrounding villages were keen to have marriages with the families of this village; but now the situation has been reversed.

They said that if they did not get justice; the youth of the Hussain Wala and all the other surrounding villages will go for a big protest and continue their struggle till the justice is delivered.

They claimed that in the past there were such incidents when children got missed from the villages for 2 to 4 days, and then strangely they were back and sometimes the culprits handed over those missing children to their families by saying that they have found their missing child. Now the local people have realized why the children were missing; those children were in fact abducted for sexual abuse by the alleged culprits.