The Zainab-rape-murder case in Kasur brought to the fore the gravity of the problem with full force which shook the collective consciousness of the society. This case proved a turning point to build a national resolve against the ugly face of child sexual abuse or pedophilia. But it proved a momentary reaction which faded away with time.
Compelled by socio-political instincts, our state machinery and society always work in a reactionary mode in all spheres of life rather pursuing things proactively. Another such incident attracted public attention when a man named Javel Iqbal, a serial killer from Lahore, confessed to killing more than a hundred children after abusing them sexually. The whole nation was in a state of shock for some days but gradually this grim story largely faded from their memory. It was not till Zainab’s murder that the whole nation was forced to realise the depth of this crime. And after Zainab’s case we are again bound to follow the same cycle of tragedy.
With rampant child abuse in every nook and corner it seems that no humanity is left in our social fabric. The children are sexually abused, tortured and in some cases killed mercilessly after sexual abuse like animals. So much so that even a child as little as six-month is not spared. It is an extreme example of barbarism. Such heinous practices may be interpreted as symptoms of a dead society.
The history of child abuse also points to the fact that the people lack recreational facilities where they can enjoy their leisure time and utilise their positive energy. The people generally find themselves suffocated in the name of cultural mores. People deserve facilities of libraries, art and literary festivals, cultural and sports events which may help them in setting higher goals in their lives.
The Zainab-rape-murder case in Kasur brought to the fore the gravity of the problem with full force which shook the collective consciousness of the society. This case proved a turning point to build a national resolve against the ugly face of child sexual abuse or pedophilia. But it proved a momentary reaction which faded away with time
There is a dire need to understand the things at play behind such criminal acts. Core reasons of this problem are communication gap between parents and children, lack of sexual orientation and blind trust on relatives and family friends and last but not the least the fear of stigmatisation of the victim and his family. In most of the cases abusers are the people whom children trust. When it comes to state’s part, it lacks the capacity and spirit to show zero tolerance against it through implementation of laws in true spirit.
Sexual orientation must be part of educational curriculum so that children can be knowledgeable enough to pre-empt sexual advances. There must be systematic space for lectures and speeches in educational institutions for awareness at a larger level. This topic must not be considered taboo any more. To rape someone must be considered a crime against humanity that must be dealt with the long arm of the law.
The play “Udaari” with main theme of child abuse recently aired on a local TV channel and was a great contribution towards spreading awareness about the subject. It also revealed the loop-holes in our medico-legal system. Media is a powerful tool for brining positive change in society on such issues therefore such plays on social issues must be aired on a regular basis.
The government must provide an enabling environment for the protection of children against all sexual advances and abuse. For this, sexual awareness comes at the top. The best thing it can do is translate the existing laws on child sexual abuse into Urdu and display them in schools, colleges, religious institutions, offices and public places. This step will promote public awareness on these laws and will act as deterrent for potential offenders.
There is no doubt that we have sufficient pieces of legislation on child sexual abuse but the need is to remove technical loopholes to make them more strong and effective. Often it takes too much time, energy, financial resources and effort to bring a culprit of child abuse to justice. Ideally speaking the law must take its course in a self-driven way. It cannot be more agreed that a culprit of child sexual abuse must be awarded exemplary punishment to set a precedent for others. The state must perform its act right now. We don’t always need to wait for another epic tragedy to invite our attention. The process must be consistent and coordinated.
The writer is development practitioner with South Asia Partnership-Pakistan