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January 11, 2018

By Saman Siddiqui

While composing my thoughts to write this blog, I received a message via friend on Whatsapp, an invitation by civil society to light candles at 8pm sharp on Thursday in memory of Zainab, at tomb of Quaid-e-Azam.  People were sent that message to participate, protest and to give proof that they were alive.  The question is – are we alive, yes in flesh and blood we are, but ethically and morally we are no better then the dead. With what face the civil society will hold vigils and protest and demand justice for Zainab. The present situation today begs the question that why wasn’t any action taken as in Kasur alone, 12 cases, if minors were reported in less than a year, within the radius of 2 km. And Zainab who was just 8 was another victim among that count.  Who is the real culprit? Today we will condemn, protest, make comments on social media; air time will be consumed over in televising shows but what will happen the day after tomorrow?

This incident jolted the whole nation; I saw the disturbing photo of the poor child found at the garbage dump, shared by some celebrity the other night. Next morning it was the trending topic everywhere. But at least have some decency not at least share such an image of the deceased. It makes me sick to see such image. There is one abuser who murdered her and now countless people circulating that image, feasting on her name in name to get the justice for her. We all participate in such acts of human cruelty, if the government, both federal and provincial had taken grave actions against the investigations and findings of the pedophile case in 2015 when hundreds of children were found molested and filmed we could have saved this little girl. I fail to find vocabulary to condemn this act of barbarism.

How many Zainabs we need for opening our eyes? Whether it is child molestation, rape and gang rape, domestic violence, trafficking, enforced and underage marriages, all such evils will go on and on as long we have the kind of bribe prone system we dwell in. Even the law enforcement agencies are involved as active participants in the crime. We all know where the fault lies.

Remember in 2001 a story surfaced about Javed Iqbal and the gang who molested 100 little boys and chopped them up into little pieces? All those horrendous acts occurred in Kasur, Mandi Bahauddin, Chakwal, Sheikhpura, Mian Channu, Rahimyar Khan. Where these places are? Somewhere within these places many minors were kidnapped, abused and killed and now Zainab is one among those who demand justice. A shocking 65 percent of sodomy cases in Pakistan take place in Punjab every year. The ratio, even with the rest of the provinces combined proportionally is highest in Punjab, with the largest number reported gang rape and child abuse cases, particularly in rural areas.

When we fail to protect our children, fail to protect our future.  Child abuse is every ones business. When such cases have been revealed it’s not just to blame the legal system, social responsibility and the morality. We all have to do something. According to a research the standard pedophile will commit 117 sexual crimes in their lifetime. The acquaintance molester accounts for 70 to 90% of reported cases. Less than 1% of cases occur at the hands of a stranger. As the CCTV footage reveals Zainab was accompanied by a man, which seems like she already knew the way she walks with him without any resistance.

The social responsibility and awareness message storms all sorts of media after the tragic incident. There is a campaign being run at the moment to teach one’s child about what are a good touch and a bad touch. But unfortunately we fail to highlight the issue that how we are producing such psychopaths in our society. They are born in the normal families, but the circumstances which surround them are surely not normal, which enables such traits to be channeled into their personality.

It’s part of the subcontinent’s culture much stressed about upbringing and protection of female children. May be its high time for us to stress on how to raise our sons and their rights also they are vulnerable too. In most of the households the ways to bring up a boy is different than a girl. Girls are supposed to stay at home don’t need much effort. But boys are meant to go out.

One of the root causes of the problem is that in our culture the parents tend to place trust on too many people uncles, neighbors, friends, etc. and  as a consequence allowing a child to become a prey. The Kasur incident today and a few years back is a reflection of our failure as a society.


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