Stronger legislation is required for issues related to child abuse

February 6, 2018

By Saman Siddiqui

Child abuse or crimes against a child is the most pressing social issue of Pakistan. In April 2017, Pakistan Penal Code was amended through Criminal law Second Amendment Act 2016 to address the serious issues of child abuse. Through this amendment in Pakistan Penal Code punishments were enhanced for the crimes against child.

The section 82 of Pakistan Penal code was amended and the age of child was enhanced from 7 to 10 years.  As per the changes, anyone under age of ten is considered a child. Three new sections were inserted in one particular chapter of Pakistan Penal Code i.e. 292A, 292B and 292C. Section 292A is about offence of exposure of child to seduction. 292B is about offence of child pornography and 292C is about punishment of child pornography.

A new section 328A was inserted in PPC which describes the offence of cruelty to child and its punishment. Section 377A and 377B are inserted in PPC which describes the offence of sexual abuse with child and its punishment. Schedule of Criminal Procedure Code is also amended which further explain all the new sections inserted in Pakistan Penal Code.

This Pakistan Penal Code amendment is available on internet, and a PDF copy can be downloaded. This research for my blog comes in response for people who are acting as child protection advocates and lack the knowledge that such laws in Pakistan exist, main problem is the implementation of laws, or better say rule of law.

500 million times more data is available on Dark Web and it is the platform for criminal activities. Child abuse and pornography is being at sold in Dark Web to earn millions of Dollars. It has been claimed that Pedophiles are using internet site like YouTube as a shop window to advertise abused children and underage pornography to other predators.

Few days ago, FIA’s cybercrime wing arrested a man in Jhang, named Taimoor Maqsood on charges of possessing child pornographic material. The arrest was made after Canada lodged a complaint through Interpol to Pakistani authorities. The FIA authorities told that the accused was a member of an online group that operated simultaneously from Pakistan, New Zealand, Canada and Sweden. For much astonishment, the arrested person is reported to be a student of Electrical Engineering.

There comes a timely response from the government following an increase in child abuse and pornography cases in the country, to put an end to the menace, the interior ministry gave an approval to the formation of the Cyber Patrolling Unit (CPU), run by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

According to the official, the cyber unit will be engaged in online patrolling with the help of the latest technology. The FIA will also be authorized to entertain complaints, particularly related to sexual abuse cases. Similarly, all zone of the FIA will be interlinked to trace out the online data. This unit will be empowered under section 35 and 37 for the Prevention of electronic Crimes Act PECA 2016.

Last year, the National Assembly passed an Act under which many powers were bestowed to the FIA to regulate cyberspace within country. According to this Act, a child pornographer shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of 7 years or with charging up fine up to Rs 5 million or both.

According to the latest numbers released by Sahil, an NGO that works on child protection with a special focus on sexual abuse, a total number of 1,764 cases of child abuse were reported across the country in the first six months of 2017 alone. Pakistan is among top 20 countries in which culprits, rapists, abusers of children and women flee away from charges due to weakness in prosecution and improper investigations. Child abuse cases are taking alarming proportions and adversely affecting the individuals, families as well as the whole society but there is lack of laws and bodies to check such incidents and rehabilitate the victims.

In the early 18th and 19th centuries, when society was more hierarchical and patriarchal, child abuse was a normal practice. But it is shameful indeed such practices still prevail, the forms might have changed but still persistent. That needs to curb out on individual to collective efforts. After Zainab’s incident, child abuse cases are on rise and being reported on daily basis. There shouldn’t be any political point scoring over such incidents. The social media is reverberating with an emotional syndrome, and self-proclaimed intellectuals are suggesting various punishments for the culprits.

Childhood should be carefree, not living in a nightmare with fear of predators. The recent rampage of child molestation cases clearly shows the dark side of our frustrated and illiterate society. There is a need is to make stronger and effective legislation for such crimes.