Kasur child pornography: Knowing the difference between resistance and consent

Published: August 10, 2015

One official has called it "the largest child abuse scandal in Pakistan's history." PHOTO: REUTERS

Children who are said to have been abused hid their faces while their mothers were interviewed by a journalist in their village in Punjab Province on Sunday. PHOTO: REUTERS One official has called it "the largest child abuse scandal in Pakistan's history." PHOTO: REUTERS Arrested gang members of a sexual abuse scandal stand in the police lockup in Hussain Khanwala village, some 55 kms southwest of Lahore on August 9, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

I don’t curse. But this is a rare occasion where I would love to abuse the perpetrators of the Kasur children’s sexual abuse atrocity in the vilest possible terms. However, here’s the thing about cursing – If I curse, I would end up using words that revile their mothers, sisters, and use the same pile of filth in words that they actually went and committed by use of force, intoxication and blackmailing.

So I would only be furthering the same thought process, where sex is connected with a position of power.  People who curse using sexual terminology are played into feeling a sense of control, and it allows one to vent unrestrictedly. In a twisted and mutated way, so does rape or molesting a child. So no, cursing will not help. We have to come up with something better. Understanding how child sexual abuse is happening in a society where the Youtube blocks have clearly not mitigated paedophilia, leave alone pornography, some things needs to be understood.

This particular incident is so painful and sensitive that we have re-evaluated each word we are using. Scandal, for example, is a wrong word to use here, because it can be used for rumour or gossip. This incident is no rumour it happens to be a real wound that will remain etched in the Pakistani nation’s collective memory. One must also not compare the criminals with animals, because such brutality is rare among animals.

All I can do is pray earnestly that may they be punished without an iota of compassion shown to them, may they be made a bad example of, and may they burn in the lowest depths of hell.

Yet, just condemning them to hell is not enough. Some 500 abused children, 15 accused (the youngest of them is allegedly just 14-years-old), seven FIRs, and a judicial probe order later, have we learnt anything about the monstrosity that child sexual abuse is? This had been going on for years! Black mailing, cover ups, a silent town. The details will keep emerging as the story unfolds, and we may never know what the exact truth is.

These children were in big numbers, and numbers jolt us awake, albeit temporarily. But what about what happens around us?

Have we seen the number of street children in Karachi alone, and do we realise that each one of them is sexually molested within days of being initiated onto the open roads?

Which one of us has not come across stories of children being molested sexually?

The accused, for whom we all are praying for eternal damnation, are from among us. Sexual abuse at a tender age rewires the brain in mysterious ways. Every child who has undergone this trauma suffers from neurobiological, as well as long-term psychological effects. Each case will be different, as will how the child, even when a grown adult, processes it.

But the scar will remain. For some, the long-term impacts may be milder but debilitating– like deep-rooted psychiatric disorders, depression, anxiety, failed relationships, inherently low self-esteem, use of sex as a means of feeling better about themselves, and irresponsible decisions when it comes to sexual activity. For others, it might be an aversion to sex and prudish behaviour for a long time. In a worst case scenario, he/she who was once the victim, is now the perpetrator.

Pakistan, fortunately, still has a social system where very few will agree with post-modernist and other theories, where childhood is not considered the age of innocence. An example is what was said in the California Childhood Sensuality Circle, by its main figure Valida Davila, in 1981:

“We believe children should begin sex at birth”.

A legal minor, or a child, is a child, not yet in a position where he or she can make an informed decision about entering into such activity. While the law of Pakistan agrees with this, and whether the child resisted or not, considers it statutory rape when a minor is sexually molested, not everyone in society agrees.

I came across a recent case, and this is factual, where a 12-year-old girl was raped by a man in his 40s. The two had been interacting and chatting as they lived in the same neighbourhood. Even after the rape was proven and the man confessed, people of the neighbourhood and the girl’s own relatives were heard saying

“It was not really rape as she is a very tez (conniving) girl and was having an affair with him; she never resisted”.

The child was a curious 12-year-old with raging hormones, not a consenting adult.

The difference must be understood in the backdrop of the Kasur incident, because now that the entire community knows which children were sexually abused and filmed, those films will be run and rerun to see where there were signs of resistance, and where the child seemed to consent. Sadly, but surely, the incident will haunt those 500 young lives and their families in a judgmental society.

Child sexual abuse perpetrators, as psychologists confirm, often befriend the child and develop a comfort level where they do not have to use physical force. Yet, because it is a child in question, it is an unfair equation and abuse of the highest order.

But what is perhaps most worrisome, that there is a market out there, and an avid watcher of these films, who may not be an active paedophile himself, but enjoys the sickening, cheap thrills of watching a helpless child being forced into the act.

This is an unsafe, bad, bad world. In your community, watch out for any suspicious activity, and report it, whether it is your child or someone else’s. Protect your child at all costs, especially when at a formative, unripe age where the child cannot distinguish between right and wrong. Do not trust anyone with your child. And if you happen to know someone who was a victim, stop judging that person. Most importantly, seek help, both psychological and legal.

May the Kasur incident be the last of its kind. And may we have learnt some lessons to protect our children.


Farahnaz Zahidi

Farahnaz Zahidi

Farahnaz is a writer and editor, and has worked as the Features Editor with The Express Tribune. Her focus is human-centric feature stories. She now writes as a freelancer, and works in the field of marketing and corporate communications. She loves literature and traveling. She tweets on @FarahnazZahidi. Her work can be seen at chaaidaani.wordpress.com/

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • wb

    “May the Kasur incident be the last of its kind. And may we have learnt some lessons to protect our children.”

    Seriously? You needed this incidence to wake up? Every day, massive numbers of children are sexually exploited in Pakistan. Perhaps, more numbers than every other country. This is a very well known phenomenon. Yet, Pakistanis are talking as if this is a shocker.

    Also, don’t you know the case of Iqbal Javed?

    And, you haven’t even scratched the surface yet. Such things are massively wide spread.Recommend

  • Headstrong

    What is it with pakistanis and bacha baazi? Why this unholy fascination for children and animals? What kind of a society do you people live in? Recommend

  • castor

    This blog is useless. I was expecting a thorough discussion on the fine line between consent and resistance, and non-consent to be abused despite wanting the sexual act.Recommend

  • Lolz

    I don’t understand why this incident of Kasur is being related to other day to day cases of child abuses and tried to present as if it was not something new! THIS IS AN ORGANIZED CHILD TRAFFICKING CASE WHERE THE CHILDREN OF A WHOLE SEGMENT OF SOCIETY ARE RAPED, MADE THEM THIEVES AND CRIMINALS, PROTECTED BY RULING PARTY’s LAW MINISTER HIMSELF AND OTHER MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT WITH THE HELP OF POLICE! The most frustrating thing is the case is being presented in media around only 7 culprits who are already in the custody whereas the protecting parliamentarians and law minister, police and influentials are still respectable! Shame on Shahbaz Shareef’s good governance!Recommend

  • Parvez

    Couple of things need to be said here ;
    – Child pornography and child sex abuse is something many countries, even so called developed ones face. The difference here is not the nature of the crime but the sheer apathy of our government, our police and the system that openly seems to be taking a position to ‘ muddy the waters ‘ so that the actual criminals will ‘ walk ‘.
    – Politicization of our police…and our political culture of patronage are to blame in the hindrance of justice being done.
    – Lastly it must be said that despite the horrendous nature of this event, it is a shame that our clergy, who otherwise have a loud voice, are woefully silent in pressing the government to do what must be done.Recommend

  • wb

    To be honest, you should ask the question: What is it with Muslims and pedophilia/incest.

    Among Muslims, these problems are spread like virus. But only the tip of the tip of the iceberg is coming out.Recommend

  • https://shafiqhaidervirk.wordpress.com/ Muhammad Shafiq Haider

    Thank you, Ms. Zahidi, for writing this.

    It is unfortunate that the victims find little moral and social support and are encouraged as well as forced –directly or indirectly- to stay silent over the already unspeakable misery they go through. Even more grave is the absence of a social mechanism to counsel, sufficiently and appropriately, to the young and the vulnerable, the victims and the potential victims, as well as lack of shared social responsibility – a cold indifference – to forestall and prevent such atrocious deeds. But above all, it is criminal how the unresponsive enforcement of law robs the victims of whatever little human courage they are left with.Recommend

  • farahnaz zahidi

    Thank you. Great feedback. Btw you may have missed the fataawa of a large number of muftis saying the perpetrators should be punished by death.Recommend

  • Shane Hashmi

    Rightly said!Recommend

  • HZR

    A similar ring was operating in the UK in Rotherham and Oxfordshire!7 of them were of Pakistani origin were nabbed and sentenced to long terms of jail.More than 1600 children were involved in this unfortunate episode.Recommend

  • kamacho

    exactly. if one check on internet we can see unimaginable number of islamic experts arguing for child sex, marriage, pedophiliaRecommend

  • Z H Hashmi

    consent or curse – crime is a crime. it is the most filthiest things which may happen on earth. It is a failure of the society not alone of couple of 100s of victim , not their poor family or not even kasur alone. It is our collective KASUR.Recommend

  • Qazi

    //Every day, massive numbers of children are sexually exploited in Pakistan. Perhaps, more numbers than every other country//

    its funny though that people from across the border try to educate us about molestation done in our part of the world while they themselves are known globally for a much more heinous crime… do you want me to name it too?Recommend

  • wb

    Please name it and also explain to me what happened afterwards in the entire country.

    The fact of the matter is, Pakistan is the rape capital of the world. That despite 9 out of 10 cases not being reported. That means, if you have 10 rapes reported, the actual number is 100.

    I’m not saying this. NGO sahil of Pakistan is saying this.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Yes I did ……..and thanks for the information.Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    wow…this is height of being illustrate and ignorant. German minister was caught with child pornography, he was not a muslim? The Dehli gang rapers and other rapers in INDIA were not muslim. But yes Muslim,christians, Hindus, Athiest all of them can do such an act !!! You cannot divide crime into religion..if you do you wiill get lostRecommend

  • Saqib

    Whats with the hoopla for this story. Pedophilia is practiced all over Pakistan and if you guys don’t know about it then you are very naive. Go and see whats happening in interior Sindh and KPK. We are making so much fuss just cause some ppl were caught. This is really hypocritical.Recommend

  • sg

    Instead of celebrang 14 august we should be mourning at what we have become.populution explosion.lawlessness.no plans to tackle current or future problems.afghans everywhere in pkistan wth green passport and equal rights. what this land of impure has become.sorry to Allah and islam in whose name we made this den hole of a country where corrupt r in power and sorry to Allama iqbal and Quaid they never ever saw this nightmare coming to realty.

  • Brar

    There is documentary about male child abuse in Pakistan and I was astonished and the sane is available on net go to youtube and type Pakistans Hidden Shame and you will not believe your eyes and ears men saying yes we do it and are not ashamed of their acts, the children are from Queta Peshawer aged only 7 or 8 yrs.Recommend

  • wb

    Actually, the most violent in Delhi gang rape was a Muslim. And, FYI, the six rapists who raped a 70 year old nun in India were also Muslims were Bangladesh.

    However, you’re too dumb to understand the difference between rapes in general and incest/pedophilia.

    And let me repeat, incest/pedophilia is widespread among Muslims like virus.Recommend

  • Usama

    poor article nobody cares about you opinion what is the real story and what action has been done that important Recommend

  • Khurram

    Then why blame the clergy in the first place. They can hardly stage a protest, particularly Al-Aktar and Al-Rasheed trusts were banned because of their uproar against. Pornography. Please society in general should blame themselves for this menace because they are ignorant of Qom e Loot.Recommend

  • Khurram

    What ever Islamic experts say, does not mean that Islam says this. It is their own opinion, which is mostly wrong, furthermore these people are PH.D degree holders, what do such people know about true Shariat? And lastly internet is governed by people who stand to lose if true Islamic picture comes to our light. Thus They are always ready to spread incorrect Islamic teachings via internet.
    That is why trusts like Al-Akhtar and Al-Rasheed were banned in first place, because they were like a thorn in these people’s side.Recommend

  • Raja Mehtab Satti

    Superb ideas and truth about this very dirty society .Farahnaz I’ll repeat here your last sentence May the Kasur incident be the last of its kind.Recommend