Another child abuse scandal

Pakistan’s ‘hidden shame’ never seems to leave us behind. After the scandals in Kasur, the recent arrest of a serial child molester, Sohail Ayaz in Rawalpindi, is yet another example of the sickening prevalence of pedophilia in our society.
More shocking is the government’s handling of the case and how a convicted pedophile linked to international child pornography went undetected for so many years. In addition to this, Ayaz also managed to land a plump job as a consultant to the Khyber Paktunkhwa government.
A decade ago, Ayaz was convicted in the UK for four years after molesting a teenage boy.  The infamous case was widely covered by the British media as Ayaz was working with an international NGO on children’s rights. Police searched his home in London and recovered thousands of children’s porn images. Authorities in the UK were concerned that he used his job to target children.
Ayaz was subsequently deported and was arrested in Italy where he was wanted in connection with a Romanian child pornography ring. He returned to Pakistan but continued with his nefarious activities. He was eventually apprehended after the case of a missing child was reported to local police. He has confessed to sexually molesting over thirty children.
The harrowing details of his activities are quickly being uncovered. Ayaz intoxicated and sexually assaulted several children keeping them in his custody for several days or even months. The distressing images and videos of the abuse were subsequently uploaded on the infamous dark web.
The nation has seen increasing cases of graphic violence and abuse of children. The horrific sexual assault and murder of Zainab in 2017 shook the conscience of the nation but we moved on after a hastily run trial and execution was carried out. A few months ago, a similar case involving four young boys surfaced in Chunian but was quickly forgotten.
Child abuse is shockingly prevalent in our society, and remains Pakistan’s biggest shame. It is unfortunate that we continue to fail our children. Around 1300 children were victims of child abuse this year and it is probably just the tip of the iceberg. Several cases go unreported as children are unable to complain to their parents. Moreover, the slack attitude of the law-enforcement agencies makes justice almost impossible to attain. 
Our streets won’t remain safe as long pedophiles like Sohail Ayaz continue to roam freely. It’s high time we acknowledge the malaise affecting our society and ensure the safety of our children. The government must act now or more children will become victims of the heinous crime.
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