Editors Choice Special

Child Abuse and Human Trafficking: Pizzagate to Kasur

Latest Update: November 14, 2017 | 183 Views
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Pizzagate is a “conspiracy theory” that emerged and went viral during the 2016 United States presidential election cycle. In the fall of 2016, the personal e-mail account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, was hacked in a spear-phishing attack and his e-mails were made public by WikiLeaks.

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Proponents of the Pizzagate theory claimed that the e-mails contained coded messages referring to human trafficking and connecting a number of restaurants in the United States and members of the Democratic Party with an alleged child-sex ring.

Ashton Kutcher a famous hollywood actor and Chairman/Co-Founder of Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, an international organization that fights against human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children, his work is changing the fates of thousands upon thousands of human trafficking victims.

The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million human trafficking victims worldwide and 4.5 million people trapped in forced sex trafficking around the globe. At least 100,000 children are prostituted annually in the U.S., adding to the $9.8 billion U.S. sex trafficking industry. This is an extremely lucrative business, as pimps typically make between $150K and $200K per child annually and they usually exploit 4-6 girls, on average.

The number of people trafficked against their will and the level of interest amongst buyers grows every single year at an alarming rate. In 2013 alone, NCMEC reviewed 22 million images and videos of suspected child sexual abuse imagery.

Many children in sex trafficking rings aren’t even conscious of what’s going on around them. They’re so conditioned by their handlers that “they think they’re just playing,” as Kutcher puts it.

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Let’s get one thing straight: Ashton Kutcher isn’t “just an actor.” As Chairman and Co-Founder of Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, an international organization that fights against human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children, his work is changing the fates of thousands upon thousands of human trafficking victims.

So, why would Ashton go before U.S. Congress to discuss human trafficking? For two main reasons: to educate, and to call to action. The government has the power to be part of the solution, to change the way we treat victims and perpetrators of human trafficking and sex slavery, and Congress has the power to help eradicate human trafficking by financing projects like Ashton’s, implementing stricter regulations, and making victim and perpetrator mental health treatment a priority.

The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million human trafficking victims worldwide and 4.5 million people trapped in forced sex trafficking around the globe. At least 100,000 children are prostituted annually in the U.S., adding to the $9.8 billion U.S. sex trafficking industry. This is an extremely lucrative business, as pimps typically make between $150K and $200K per child annually and they usually exploit 4-6 girls, on average.

The number of people trafficked against their will and the level of interest amongst buyers grows every single year at an alarming rate. In 2013 alone, NCMEC reviewed 22 million images and videos of suspected child sexual abuse imagery.

Many children in sex trafficking rings aren’t even conscious of what’s going on around them. They’re so conditioned by their handlers that “they think they’re just playing,” as Kutcher puts it.

You can watch the full video of Ashton Kutcher presenting to the U.S. Congress below:

In 2016, there were 7,572 cases of human trafficking in the U.S., most of which were sex trafficking victims. If you can believe it, that’s actually a 35.7% increase from the previous year. Keep in mind that these were only the victims who were reported, so this number is much lower than the actual amount of people in the U.S. sold to the human trafficking trades.

According to the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection, the U.S. has the largest share — a whopping 50% — of commercialized child pornography websites in the world. Tons of Americans each year will also engage in sex tourism, which is when someone travels to countries with less strict or no laws surrounding prostitution and child sex slavery.

There has also been a lot of speculation lately on child sex rings being used by the U.S. government (The Pizzagate Scandal).

The Kasur child sexual abuse scandal is a series of child sexual abuses that occurred in Hussain Khanwala village in Kasur District, Punjab, Pakistan from 2006 to 2014, culminating in a major political scandal in 2015. After the discovery of hundreds of video clips showing children performing forced sex acts, various Pakistani media organizations estimated that 280 to 300 children, most of them male, were victims of sexual abuse.[1] The scandal involved an organized crime ring that sold child pornography to porn sites, and blackmailed and extorted relatives of the victims.

The scandal caused nationwide outrage, among allegations that the Punjab police and Malik Ahmed Saeed, Kasur’s Member of the Provincial Assembly from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), were involved in an attempted cover-up of the abuse.

It is cited by both news agencies and government departments as the largest child abuse scandal in Pakistan’s history. Besides large-scale public condemnation, 50 Pakistani clergy and religious scholars issued a fatwa (religious decree) for capital punishment of the culprits, and demanded that the government console the victims and their parents.

On 8 August 2015, villagers from Hussain Khanwala and adjacent villages clashed with policemen in Dolaywala village along Deepalpur Road, after protesting the police’s failure to stop the abuse ring. Police cordoned off the roads leading to the village to stop the protesters; As a police contingent tried to halt the mob led by Mobeen Ahmed, the latter pelted stones. Police teargassed and baton charged the crowd, which then damaged official vehicles on Deepalpur Road. DSPs Hassan Farooq Ghumman and Arif Rasheed; Ganda Singh SHO Akmal Kausar; policemen Akbar, Sajid, Riaz, Naeem, Ahmed Ali, Akbar Ghani and Muhammad Akmal; and 15 protesters were injured in the clash.

The Government of Punjab’s initial statement came from Punjab Minister of Law Rana Sanaullah on 8 August 2015, who stated that a government inquiry committee concluded that no instance of child sex abuse had been reported. Sanaullah said that “reports to this effect surfaced after two parties involved in a land dispute registered ‘fake cases’ against each other.”

At the time that the Kasur atrocity came to light, rape and sodomy were legally punishable; however, hundreds of pornographic videos of children had been circulated under the very nose of the district police. The Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2016, that was passed last month by the Senate, is more specific.

The law criminalises child trafficking and pornography and cites punishment for sexual abusers of children.

The recent conviction is a reminder of the agony of over 280 children, aged between 10 and 15 years, who, for seven long years, were subjected to sexual abuse and videotaped.

They were too afraid to report on their abusers who extorted money from their families, or else sold the video clips.

Even after a crime of this nature, the authorities have yet to set up a national commission on child rights to monitor and coordinate legislative implementation. Being too ill equipped to crack down on abuse of this kind is simply not an option.

If specialised laws fill the statutory books, there is no excuse for not implementing them.

This was one case that mercifully came to light. With the law enforcers unwilling to go after those who sexually abuse young children — sometimes colluding with the perpetrators themselves — the extent of the crime can only be imagined.

“I don’t regret speaking out, but since then, people have looked at me with strange eyes,” laments a 16-year-old Ahmed*.

He was one of 20 children sexually abused by a gang who sold videos of the acts and used them for blackmail purposes.

Powerful taboos, gaps in legislation and a lack of awareness continue to fuel a phenomenon that remains hidden, yet deeply embedded within society.

Two perpetrators in the Kasur child sexual abuse case were given life imprisonment.

Although the sentencing will not bring to a halt the activities of prolific pornography rings operating underground, reportedly with the collusion of a section of law-enforcement officers and political patrons, it has sent a strong message to those who perpetrate such abuse: the state will punish those found guilty.

At the time that the Kasur atrocity came to light, rape and sodomy were legally punishable; however, hundreds of pornographic videos of children had been circulated under the very nose of the district police. The Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2016, that was passed last month by the Senate, is more specific.

The law criminalises child trafficking and pornography and cites punishment for sexual abusers of children.

The recent conviction is a reminder of the agony of over 280 children, aged between 10 and 15 years, who, for seven long years, were subjected to sexual abuse and videotaped.

The police, who had conspicuously failed to act despite pleas from some parents, eventually arrested 37 men after clashes between relatives and authorities brought the issue into the media spotlight.

But the young victims who defied taboos to seek justice say they have little hope for rebuilding their lives.

In recent years, more and more families in Pakistan have dared to speak out against sexual abuse of their children.

But the fight against predators remains in its infancy.