ASIA/PAKISTAN - Child abuse: it is urgent to end impunity

Thursday, 11 January 2018 childhood   children   civil society   violence   sexual abuse  


Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "The issue of sexual abuse and crimes against minors is a big problem in Pakistani society. We are all involved in questioning the roots and possible solutions. A strong signal from the government is urgently needed, which puts an end to impunity": says to Agenzia Fides, lay Catholic, Michelle Chaudhry, at the head of the "Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation", a Catholic-inspired foundation based in Lahore, committed to the care and education of needy children. Pakistan reopened the debate on the phenomenon of child crimes in the aftermath of the case of little Zainab, a 7-year-old Muslim girl found dead on January 9 in a landfill in Kasur district (in the province of Punjab), after being repeatedly raped and then strangled. The crime triggered strong public protest, degenerated even in acts of violence, and in a spontaneous demonstration of national mourning.
Michelle Chaudhry expresses "pain, bitterness and anger because the state has failed to protect the lives of children" and notes with concern that "the phenomenon is endemic: only in recent days five more cases of child abuse and crimes have emerged".
"Civil society has been raising its voice for years asking for greater efforts to implement child protection policies and above all to put an end to impunity", she says. In the same area - recalls Chaudhry - in 2015 a scandal broke out regarding an organized and ramified gang of criminals involved in the sexual abuse of over 200 children, and among them there were also some notables, but "after so much noise nothing was done and those responsible remained unpunished: this is unacceptable", she observes.
"This crime against defenseless minors is inhumane. It is a serious social problem and concerns children of every religion. Let us ask ourselves in conscience, before God: what society are we? What society do we want to build if we tolerate these barbaric acts against the most vulnerable?", asks the activist.
And she points out to Fides: "It is urgent for the government to take steps to implement the existing regulations on child protection, to strengthen them and to guarantee exemplary punishment towards the guilty", confirming the commitment of her Foundation and many other civil society organizations for an awareness campaign. In addition, Chaudhry calls for the ratification and compliance of international Conventions on childhood by the state of Pakistan and deems "the full support of international organizations to stem this tragic phenomenon in our country" necessary. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 11/1/2018)