Sexual abuse awareness stressed at protest in Karachi for Zainab

January 11, 2018
Minerwa Tahir

By Minerwa Tahir

KARACHI: A large number of activists and members of the Pakistani drama and film industry swarmed to the Karachi Press Club on Thursday to raise their voice against the abuse that Zainab suffered in Kasur.

From the talented Mahira Khan and philanthropist Shehzad Roy to civil society activist Jibran Nasir, everyone at the Karachi Press Club seemed to be on one page regarding education and awareness on sexual abuse.

Speaking to Samaa, film star Mahira lamented over the fact that people have had to come out to demand justice for Zainab. She stressed the need for educating children as well as parents about sexual abuse.

"It's sad that we have had to come here," she said while speaking to Samaa. "Inshalah, a time will come when we wouldn't have to raise slogans or hashtags of justice for Zainab or justice for any child. We should be sure that something like this will not happen. And God forbid if it will happen, everyone will come out against it or our institutions will take care of it for us."

She went on to say that it is extremely important that to add education of sexual abuse to our curriculum.

Musician and social worker Shehzad Roy said that 90% of the children who are abused personally know the abuser. "I think this injustice [that happened with Zainab in Kasur] is happening with every fifth child," he said. "Ninety per cent of the times it's someone the child knows."

It is extremely important to implement Life Skill-Based Education, said Roy while speaking to Samaa. "It is very important to include [this education] in the curriculum," he said. "Also, it is very important for parents to speak to their children so that children are able to tell them if they face any abuse."

Tooba Siddiqui, a model and actor, demanded that capital punishment be provided to the culprits.

"It's really, really sad to see this state of Pakistan when we can't provide protection to children," she said. "We have gathered here because this is a very very serious issue. Everybody should wake up."

She said that the first thing we need to do is catch the culprit and he should be awarded capital punishment so that a precedent is set for the people. "I really wish that he is hanged in public and everyone should be made to see and ponder over what has happened."

Meanwhile, Jibran Nasir was of the view that we need to ask ourselves if we are in some way facilitating the murderers of Faizan and Zainab and abusers of numerous children. "Are we responsible for this society in which the child is unable to differentiate between their good and bad?" he asked.

According to him, when a child suffers sexual abuse, he or she can't tell the parents as the latter are bound in the shackles of misplaced perceptions of honor. "Conversation [on sexual abuse] does not take place in the house, on TV or in school," he said. "We need to have schools, funded by our taxes, to educate our children on sexual violence and sexual abuse. Our media and information ministries should sensitize parents via drama, TV, news and public service messages so that when children come home with a question on sexual abuse, parents are able to take those questions." He added that this will help us form a society in which the victim is not told to adopt silence but is supported while the culprit is the one who is left unable to face people out of shame.

Another civil society activist, Seema Maheshwary, said that we need to ensure the safety of our children. "The state needs to focus on children's rights as well as human rights."