Outside, It Was a Matchmaking Service. Inside, a Child Pornography Ring.

Police recovered 46 videos of child sexual abuse.
Rimal Farrukh
Islamabad, PK
child abuse, child porn, pakistan, south asia, crime
Investigators in the Pakistani city of Sahiwal say that the children in the videos are between the ages of 8 and 10. Photo for representational purpose only, via Getty Images.

Four men have been arrested and are accused of running a child pornography studio and ring from a shop that offers matchmaking services. 

Police in Sahiwal city in Pakistan believe the accused have been running their illegal operation since 2018 while posing to be matrimonial matchmakers, a common service in a country where marriages are predominantly arranged.   

But the police suspect the shop never did any matchmaking, because its interior did not match the ruse. Instead, they believe street children were lured into their premises, where they were filmed while being raped and sexually assaulted.  

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The suspects Tariq Javed, Asif Ali, Riyasat Ali and Hafiz Ehtesham are being charged with child sexual abuse and pornography. 

Police recovered 46 videos of children being sexually abused from the possession of the accused. “We have recovered a USB stick, out of which videos were recovered where three of the accused are sexually abusing children while [one of the accused] was making videos at the time,” sub-inspector Omar Daraz told BBC Urdu

Investigators are trying to identify the children in the videos, who have been described as between the ages of 8 and 10. So far, none of the victims or their families have come forward. 

“In many of the child abuse cases that we have monitored in the media, you find that the culprits make videos of the victims, some of which are pornographic in nature. The primary purpose of this is to blackmail the child or the child’s family and to keep them under pressure. This makes the child more vulnerable to repeated instances of abuse by the perpetrator,” Child rights activist Ifthikhar Mubarik told VICE World News. 

In 2015, an extensive child pornography network involving more than 200 children was exposed in a village in the Kasur district of Pakistan. Most of the victims and their families had been blackmailed into silence by the perpetrators.

In 2020, three men were arrested on charges of child pornography as part of a nationwide crackdown by the Federal Investigation Agency’s Cyber Crime Division. That same year,  child protection nonprofit Sahil documented 89 incidents of child pornography. In 2019, Pakistani authorities blocked 2,364 child pornography websites. 

A police official working on the latest child pornography bust in Sahiwal told VICE World News that the confidential nature of matchmaking services was being used as a cover for crimes against children. The private matchmaking business is big in Pakistan, but it is largely informal and is not regulated by the government, which makes it an easy ruse for exploitation.

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