Whether its paedophiles in Pakistan or perverted politicians in the UK, child abuse must not be hidden

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Every reported case of alleged abuse must be thoroughly investigated

(via Jeevan mag)

The abuse of youngsters is not limited to the perpetrators of horrific crimes who steal childhood innocence but is often enabled by a network of others within society, part of a systematic process of cover-up and denial. Accountability lies not only in prosecutions but in educating families and communities on child safety to minimise risk in the first place. It is important to learn how to respond if cases of abuse surface.

In the UK, many historic cases of paedophilia are only now coming to light. This is for a number of reasons, some of the key issues are listed below,

victims fear and shame, stigma of abuse

ignorance, denial and inaction of responsible adults

cases not taken seriously by police, health and social workers

inadequate legislation, lack of political will to address abuse

failures within the education system to warn and protect children

individual and community collusion protecting those in powerful positions

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Childline is a lifeline for many abused kids in the UK

(Image Mancurian Matters)

This week allegations in the Nation were described by Saba Sadiq, head of Punjab’s Child Protection Bureau, as “the largest-ever child abuse scandal in Pakistan’s history” and is a timely reminder of our own past failings on this issue. We still have some way to go. Failure to deal with abuse of minors in the UK only began to be seriously addressed with the setting up of a comprehensive educational campaign by a determined and committed journalist and TV presenter, Esther Rantzen. She established Childline back in 1986 which offered a 24-hour confidential free helpline and created public awareness of how victims could be helped.

In what was seen as a revolutionary approach, for the first time, child witnesses were able to give evidence via video in court procedures bringing perpetrators to justice. The service takes more than a million telephone calls a year and also provides free counselling for children offering a safe environment when kids can open up on issues of bullying, sexual and psychological abuse and neglect. 

The UK has been shaken to the core once again in recent times on learning that a network of trusted politicians and celebrities that worked with youth had in fact violated the trust of parents and allegedly carried out the most vile sexual assaults sometimes on very young children. There was a long-standing culture of denial with many aiding and abetting paedophiles through their reluctance to report and take action. Some cases only came to light after alleged abusers had died so no accountability.

Pakistan must now face the distressing details arising from their own cases of alleged systematic abuse as in Kasur district where the Nation states, there was,

“the discovery of 400 videos recording more than 280 children being forced to have sex.  Most of the victims were under 14 but include a six year old boy who was forced to perform a homosexual act and a 10 year old schoolgirl who was filmed being molested by a 14 year old boy.”

Prevention of child abuse must take into consideration faith and cultural sensitivities in teaching families and communities how to respond. One concern arising from the abuse at Kasur is how some parents through fear of public shame gave in to bribery actually paying blackmailers to remove videos of their children. The Nation reports,

“one mother aged 35, said she had to sell her gold ornaments to pay Rs 600,000 to the blackmailers for the videos of her 14 year old son being abused to be erased. ‘They made the video of my son in 2011. We have been paying money to the blackmailers for the last four years. I have seen the videos. It was disgusting and shameful,’ she said with tears rolling down her cheeks. ‘We are seriously thinking to set our houses on fire and leave the locality.’”

In one sense, sadly, by trying to protect the reputation of the children, families were also colluding to keep such hideous activities ongoing, sometimes for years There are also fears that police handling such cases may be treating some child victims forced into abusing other children by adults as perpetrators. These are complex cases requiring great care in handling. What must not be done is to sweep this alleged abuse under the carpet. Lessons must be learnt and systems put in place to protect and support Pakistan’s children.

Politician Imran Khan (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) tweeted the following in response,

Shocked at the news about 280 children in Kasur, most under 14 yrs, sexually abused & filmed & their families blackmailed for money. 1/3

2/3 Local politicians & police involved in silencing protesters. We strongly condemn these horrific acts of child abuse & police complicity.

3/3 If we cannot protect our children & instead police protect perpetrators of abuse, then we are becoming an inhumane & depraved society.

One important lesson is to be aware of the whereabouts of children, who they associate with and any risk factors in their environment. Whereas Khan’s comments on child safety are welcome, it must be said that a man who allegedly denied the existence of a daughter for years and according to the mother had limited contact could hardly be regarded as showing responsibility towards her safety and well-being. Child abuse can arise in many environments and an active and observant parental role is vital in keeping children safe.

The police investigating the Kasur cases must liaise closely with victims’ families and enable adults and their sons and daughters to express themselves. Parents that are feeling shame and perhaps guilt at their failure to protect their offspring must not be silenced but heard. So far 6 abusers are said to have been arrested with five remanded in custody but it often takes a wider system of other offenders to maintain networks of abuse. The community must unite to collectively expose those harming their children. One boy claimed he was given a drug injected into his spinal area, the Nation reported,

“I was just nine years old when I was abducted and taken to a deserted house. I was brutally tortured when I offered resistance. Then they administered a spinal injection. I was raped multiple times by several men at gunpoint. I decided not to tell anybody.”

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Zero tolerance on child abuse (Image Emaze)

Kiddie porn is big business… global and profitable. Questions need to be asked as to who supplied the drug, did any family member or professional pick up signs of abuse and neglect in children? If so what was their response?

Paedophilic acts inflicted on minors are vile and often accompanied by threats delaying reporting. Children must not be blamed or punished for the crimes of adults. They should not be stigmatized in any way for the deviant behaviour of others. Communities need to come together to face the myriad of difficulties which arise.

In the UK, the victims of historic abuse are now adults with ongoing and additional difficulties. There may be relationship problems, fear of rejection, depression and anger at those who failed to protect them as children. Although there is a greater awareness since the 1980s when Childline came into being, abuse is still there. In many ways the internet makes access to children easier with online grooming, the dark net can protect the abusers and open children up to exploring their sexuality earlier. Many may be unaware of what is happening and silenced with money, small gifts or intimidation and violence.

In an unexpected twist, Samaa TV is reporting that “police reported that the whole (Kasur) episode was orchestrated to occupy 19 acres of government land” and that “the scandal was the result of an old feud”. However there are counter-claims that parents are now under pressure to withdraw allegations and concerns that those protesting are being threatened by police. This must be investigated to ascertain the facts. Whether there are 285 videos of child abuse or 1, procedures need to be in place to safeguard youngsters.

Now is as good a time as any to review child protection procedures, to use or build on existing community resources. Faith is important to many and community leaders can offer support and guidance to families in their locality. Educational establishments may be utilized for training on identifying abuse and the media can be helpful as a resource to alert to warning signs regarding grooming of juveniles. Communities must be ever vigilant and ensure all avenues are opened up to protect the most vulnerable in society and bring to account anyone who harms a precious child.

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.

About Carol Anne Grayson

Blogging for Humanity.... Campaigner/researcher global health/human rights/drones/WOT/insurgency http://www.esrc.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/PO/experts/Health_and_Wellbeing.aspx Exec Producer of Oscar nominated documentary Incident in New Baghdad, currently filming on drones.
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2 Responses to Whether its paedophiles in Pakistan or perverted politicians in the UK, child abuse must not be hidden

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