Authorities in Pakistan called for a federal investigation into what they have called the largest-ever child-abuse ring in the country's history after the discovery of 400 videos depicting more than 280 children forced into performing sex acts. Punjab province's top child-protection official called the case “the largest-ever child-abuse scandal in Pakistan’s history" and promised "vigorous punishment for such criminals."
According to the Dawn newspaper, Shahbaz Sharif, the provincial chief minister, said: "Those involved in the case will be severely punished. They will not be able to escape their fate." He added, "The affected families will be provided with justice at any cost."
The videos encompass hours of unconscionable sex crimes, including children forced to molest one another. Those seen being abused in videos were as young as 7 years old.
"Abusers filmed young children, blackmailed them and their parents. Many children tried to hide from the camera." pic.twitter.com/cKtiPwKTQ5
— Rameeza Majid Nizami (@RameezaNizami) August 9, 2015
The disclouse of the child-abuse ring was associated with a day of unrest that left 25 people injured, as Punjab residents protested what they characterized as government inaction in the face of the tragic revelations. Villagers reported being forced to make blackmail payments to the perpetrators.
"Everyone in this village is a victim," one mother told the Nation newspaper.
Parents of the victims have alleged that at least 25 men were involved in the conspiracy, which dates back to 2009. So far, seven men have been arrested, Al Jazeera reported. In all, police have filed charges against 15 individuals.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been criticized for his inattention to the unfolding scandal, took note of the situation Sunday, according to journalist Rameeza Majid Nizami of the Nation.