Senate Passes a Law to Criminalize Child Sexual Abuse

ISLAMABAD: On Friday, Senate passed a bill criminalizing sexual assault against minors, trafficking and child pornography, for the first time.

The modification to the penal code that will go into force after being approved by the president increases the age of  the criminal responsibility from 7 to 10 years of age.

Under the revised legislation, sexual assaults would also be punishable by up to 7 years in prison, from now on. Previously, only rape was criminalized.

Likewise, child pornography will also be punishable by 7 years in prison with a fine of  Rs 0.7 million, that was previously not mentioned in the law

The country was shocked last August by the major paedophilia scandal that revealed that hundreds of pornographic videos of children from around the village of Hussain Khanwala located in Kasur district had been made and were also being circulated.

Around 20 arrests were made, but the acts of sodomy and rape were punishable by law. The new amendment also criminalizes the child trafficking within the country.

Formerly the child traffickers were only legally accountable for punishment if they took children across border.

The new modification in the legislation would aid to protect the children against any physical and mental abuse.

The new Sections 292 A, 292 B & 292 C, 328 A, 369 A, 377 A & 377 B have been now integrated into Pakistan Panel Code, 1860, making exposure to seduction and child pornography a punishable crime.

“This is a very important step to realize the obligations of Pakistan under the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said chief of child protection at UNICEF, Sara Coleman.

“Now we have to turn our attention to the law’s implementation,” said Valerie Khan, who is the director of Group Development Pakistan – that is a local NGO that advocates legal reforms She called out for the “establishment of a national commission on child rights that is essential to monitor & coordinate the implementation of the law.”

Pakistan sanctioned the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1990, and is under obligation to implement its provision by harmonizing polices, legislation, programs, plans of action with it, & report progress to the United Nation’ committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), Geneva after every 5 years.

To carry out this task, the existing laws are a prerequisite to be harmonized with UNCRC to effectively initiate requisite actions to meeting the standards that are set forth under the UNCRC.

According to a recent report from Sahil, that is an NGO, working against child sexual abuse,total number of young boys being abused increased by 4.3% in the first half of 2015 compared to last year (the same period).

The report stated that around 178 boys aged 6 – 10 were abused compared to 150 girls of the same ages.