Child sexual abuse ring busted in Pakistan Thick bamboo lines the road leading into this small hamlet; it is the monsoon season and the fields running beside the road are richly packed with a harvest of corn and wheat. Picturesque and more prosperous -- relatively speaking -- than most areas of Punjab province, Hussain Khan Wala is at the center of a child abuse scandal that has rocked the country. Villagers accuse police officials of covering up a pedophile ring, after videos emerged of their children being molested by members of a prominent and influential local family.
They say the abuse had been going on since at least , and that the children were blackmailed to steal from their homes to prevent the videos from going public. Read More "My child stopped going to school; whenever they saw him, they took him into the fields, in the house," the year-old mother of one victim told CNN.
Hundreds of children caught in paedophile ring Photos: Hundreds of children caught in paedophile ring Hundreds of children caught in paedophile ring — A boy who says he was molested and filmed looks across a field where he says many children, including him, were abused and raped in a story that has shocked Pakistan.
Hide Caption 1 of 6 Photos: Hundreds of children caught in paedophile ring Hundreds of children caught in paedophile ring — Police say a gang of 20 to 25 people abused and filmed children between and in the village of Hussain Khan Wala in the Kasur district of Pakistan's Punjab Province. Hide Caption 2 of 6 Photos: Hundreds of children caught in paedophile ring Hundreds of children caught in paedophile ring — Villagers peer into a well in the house where some children were allegedly drugged, raped and filmed.
Locals told CNN this well was where children were hung naked upside down. Hide Caption 3 of 6 Photos: Hundreds of children caught in paedophile ring Hundreds of children caught in paedophile ring — Local media has played a strong role in bringing this story to the public eye. Satellite vans line the high street as journalists scramble to get the latest information regarding the scandal. Hide Caption 4 of 6 Photos: Hundreds of children caught in paedophile ring Hundreds of children caught in paedophile ring — The mother of one of the suspects protests her family's innocence as angry villagers look on.
Hide Caption 5 of 6 Photos: Hundreds of children caught in paedophile ring Hundreds of children caught in paedophile ring — "My heart sank when I saw my son in the video," the mother of one victim said.
I saw my own child in these videos and my heart sank. I ran to the police but there was no help. Everyone in the village knew what was happening but was too scared to say anything. Sera said it was here that the children were drugged, abused and hung upside down naked from ropes.
Sexual abuse and blackmail A deep well sits ominously in the house's entrance; villagers tell CNN the family would threaten to drown the children if they complained to their parents.
A year-old boy filmed in one of the videos told CNN he was first raped at the age of nine, after he was approached by a man with a gun while collecting water for his grandfather.
He called out and five more men came in. I started screaming and they covered my mouth. Each of them had a weapon - one had an axe. They said they would cut me into tiny pieces if I made a single sound. Then they raped me. I stole from my own home, my own family.
A gang of 20 to 25 people is believed to have been involved in the abuse. The mother of one of those accused - who faces years behind bars, if convicted -- said "the entire village has turned against me," following the arrests; but she insists: One of my children made a mistake many years ago. This makes it more difficult to protect a child due to the taboo and social stigma associated with this issue. And in Hussain Khan Wala, the rage provoked by the case continues to simmer.
On Tuesday, Punjab province's chief of police announced that the suspects wold be tried in a terrorism court to expedite the process. He said 3 police officials have been suspended pending an investigation. But their press conference was met with slogans of "Death to the police! What remains unclear, for now at least, is whether justice will be served, and whether the case will prompt a wider examination of the problem of child abuse, or be treated as just another isolated scandal.
In Hussan Khan Wala, the mother of another of the victims weeps.