A blackmail gang in Pakistan’s Punjab province sexually abused about 280 children and had sold their videos in the market for years , Pakistani officials said on Monday.
The children under the age of 14 from three villages in eastern Punjab Province has been forced to perform sex on video by a gang of 15 men for years, intoxicating and intimidating with their guns. They also extorted money from the families of the victims blackmailing them to release videos on the internet.
“It was a gang that has 15 to 21 members. These people have been ... raping boys and girls under the age of 15 and then filming them since 2009," said Kasur district police chief Rai Babar Saeed, adding that "It is a case of extortion. It is their business."
The families had kept silent until one of them spoke up and encouraged others last month, the residents began to rise their voice against the sexual abuse and have reported it to the police.Last Tuesday, many protests took place in the province accusing local officials and security forces for backing the suspects.Some of the protesters encounter with the police which left many people injured.
Opposition politician Imran Khan blamed Punjab officials of "politicizing the police."
"That is why the force is unable to check criminal activities and a tragedy like Kasur," he told supporters at a rally in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
"We will force the government through the independent media to chase the real culprits and punish them in an exemplary manner," he added.
Rubina Bibi whose 13-year-old son was a victim said that she tried to file a report at the Ganda Singh Wala police station nearly two months ago, "the police station clerk told me to get lost and I was thrown out.”
"My son is in the videos, he is a victim," she said. "Our children were forced into this. They were humiliated. But the police are treating them like criminals," she added.
Another mother, Shakila Bibi claimed that she went to the police station to file a complaint, but instead of registering a report, they took her son into custody.
“My 15-year-old son is still in jail”, she said.
11 members of the gang have been detained as a result of the investigation which launched by the police following the rising tension in the province, police officers said on Sunday.
The case indicates that children from the disadvantageous part of the society has been under the danger mostly who work as domestic servants and face abuse in their workplaces.
The Nation, a Lahore-based English-language newspaper reported on Saturday that the gang had drugged and raped the children , some as young as 6.
An 18 year-old boy said that he had been raped several times since he was just ten years old then he forced to stole money and jewelery from his family to get rid of being subject of the videos which were sold to buyers and pornographic websites overseas.
"I was going to school one day when these boys picked me up and beat me up badly. Then they drugged me, and when I woke up, they showed me these videos they had made of me," he said.
"They told me that they would bury me alive if I told anyone ... I thought about killing myself every single day."
According to a survey from Sahil , Pakistan’s leading campaign group working against child abuse, at least 3500 children were subject of the sexual harassment which were reported mainly from the rural areas of the country in 2014 .
“Very few are reported because the victims and families are embarrassed to disclose the sexual offence against them because of cultural, social and religious barriers,”said an official from the group.
Lawyer Latif Sra who is hearing the case of the victims, said: "I have personally met hundreds of parents who have not yet come forward to file official complaints, either out of fear or shame."