ZAINAB: A CASE NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN!

By: |Sundas Rehman Mughal|

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The utmost dilemma of today is that we are living in a society where Children; God’s most beautiful and pious creation are becoming victim of notorious acts of mankind.The blood of these innocent victims is a burden on our shoulders. Lack of potential to safeguard our children implies that we as a nation have failed miserably!

There are six major crime categories for child sexual abuse: abduction for sexual purposes including child pornography, attempt of rape or sodomy, rape or sodomy, gang rape or gang sodomy, murder after sexual assaults and child marriages.

The diagram shows the details of child abuse cases in year 2016.

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The Kasur district, saw 141 cases of child sexual abuse in 2016, attack on Zainab was the 12threported in the same small area of eastern Pakistan. Investigators suspect that whoever raped and murdered Zainab was involved in other attacks as his DNA matches six of the case. The same district was home to a pedophilia ring (a group of 25 men involved in child pornography) that abused more than 200 children for six years from 2009 till 2014 and sold videos of the abuse [2].Unfortunately in Pakistan about 80% of all children are exposed to pornography and almost one child out of every four or six is exposed to sexual abuse [3].Out of the 141 cases in Kasur, 100 were killed.

The question arises that were these 100 lives this worthless that someone used them for their evil intentions and threw them away on a garbage dump? This incident and many like that are an eye opener for our nation.

A study by Sahil shows that the highest percentage of vulnerable age in boys and girls is from 11 to 15 yrs and second most vulnerable age is from 6 to 10 yrs. The studies reveal that most of the abusers are acquaintances of the children who take benefit of the trust of child’s parents and the child. The data collection of 2016 shows that maximum cases of child abuse occurred in Punjab followed by Sindh.

Details are as follows:-

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Although the protection of child is responsibility of every individual, but the greater responsibility lies with those who have the power and status to create/implement laws specially government officials, the legislative body, and Police officials. As it is said; “With great power comes,Great responsibility”.

Children of Pakistan are facing inhuman treatment because the responsible organizations are not carrying out their jobs. Government of Pakistan lacks proper legislations for crimes against children.Pakistan Penal code considers Child sexual abuse as a crime punishable by Law, in 2016 after the pedophilia scandal, this law was amended to include child pornography and sexual assault, and it was approved that culprit will be sentenced seven years in prison. The dilemma of the situation is that despite the laws, the investigation and prosecution of these cases requires the deployment of forensic methods like DNA analysis. The facilities are currently unavailable, particularly in rural areas, due to which few are charged for the crimes convicted [4]. National and provincial leaders should discuss and approve laws which can levy strict punishments for the culprit and give greater protection to the victims.

Sadly, none of the influential actors is playing a substantial role for child protection. International NGOs are more interested in implementing their own generic projects. The local NGOs who acknowledge child protection as a priority task face issues such as lack of funds and political pressure to prevent exposure of high officials involved in the crime.Pakistan based NGOs such a Pahchaan and Sahil created awareness among the masses and ensured that the taboo of Child Abuse is openly discussed, their efforts in this domain have convinced Government to acknowledge Child Protection as a problem that requires attention.

Absence of sexual education also acts as a roadblock because the greatest aspect of prevention is awareness.NGOs andconcerned Government departments should ensure that awareness program for protection of children should be initiatedin all schools and colleges (Government, semi-government or private) of both urban and rural sector.

Lack of reporting and rehabilitation centres for child abuse survivorsis one of the major reasons due to which the culprits continue the immoral act.Government should develop a child protection system which comprise of a report unit where victim or his parents can report any abuse or ill treatment that they faced. Rehabilitation centres should be available for the victims who survive after the assault. Government should provide psychiatric and psychological services to the victimsespecially in rural areas as 76% of the sexual abuse cases occur in areas who cannot afford rehabilitative facilities. A victim of Kasur stated: “I think of killing myself every single day.” A psychologist should be available who teach the victims to live their lives along with the bitter truth.

Pakistan has a strong knitted social culture in which people are afraid to discuss the hard truths of their lives. Most victims and their families prefer not to report brutality they face due to two major reasons; shame that victims feel and lack of trust in effectiveness of law and order. It is important that all relevant departments collaborate and work with true spirit to stop this brutality against innocent souls and make Pakistan a land of pure in true sense.

The author is a freelance writer based in Islamabad. She can be reached at sundas.mughal@gmail.com

Bibliography

1. Sahil. A compilation of Child abuse reported cases in 2016. Islamabad: Kiva, 2016. <http://sahil.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Cruel-numbers-Report-2016-Autosaved1-edited111.pdf>

2. CNN. Murdered Pakistani girl’s notebook holds poignant entry. 12 January 2018. <http://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/12/asia/pakistan-zainab-notebook-intl/index.html. 18 Jan 2018>

3. Zafar, Dr. Naeem. “Are we protecting our Children in Pakistan?” Presentation. n.d. <https://international.uiowa.edu/sites/international.uiowa.edu/files/file_uploads/zafar.pdf>

4. Zakaria, Rafia. After Zainab’s murder, what will it take to protect the other children of Pakistan? 13 Jan 2018. <http://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/13/opinions/sex-education-needed-in-pakistan-zakaria-opinion/index.html. 17 Jan 2018>

5. Nation, The. Stricter Child Abuse Punishments. 9 April 2017. <https://nation.com.pk/09-Apr-2017/stricter-child-abuse-punishments. 18 Jan 2018>

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