By Uzma Zafar
We grew up hearing from our parents that they grew up in a very good environment where not just the air was pure but the people have great hearts also. There were honour killings of course in the villages and rural areas but mostly the country was safe. In fact once my aunt, as she used to narrate to me, was getting kidnapped. Her friend’s brother was playing in the ground nearby and she screamed on top of her lungs; ‘Pasha Bhai!’ And the kidnapper, just by her call, left her as he got terrified! So, there was no sectarianism nor any Hindu, Muslim, Christian differences prevalent so much in the society. People took each other as humans! There were no predators lurking in the dark or in open. Women were strong and wherever they raised their voice, the men ogling them got scattered! But Alas, those days are gone in dust!
Today, no one is safe and the latest sickness in the society is pedophilia. No matter whatever the age or gender, predators, in fact, animals are everywhere, among relatives, family friends or total strangers. It is also a fact that over the years, the masses are more aware of their rights and they can now report crimes and this concept is also diminishing that it would bring shame to their families. Thus there is a surge in reported crimes with advancement in social media, which is a step forward, yet the severity of crimes is increasing too and becoming horrible and gruesome day by day.
Just the other evening, a 7 year old girl from Mehr Abadi was taken away and after several hours, an unknown lady brought her back. The girl had blood all over her body. Her clothes were torn, especially from arms and she had bruises and scratches all over, as if some animal had had her for supper. And to top it all, she was mentally challenged also. She belonged to a poor family. Her mom kept on asking her through tears if anything bad happened to her. Do you think a 7 year old can respond to such a question, even if she was educated? She is too young to understand what happened to her and that too, when she was mentally challenged also!
And most recently, incidences of child abuse and sexual assault of women now emerge on daily basis in Pakistan. Yet another heinous incident came to light today. The police claim to have arrested an elderly driver in Rawalpindi for allegedly luring minor girls for a ride in his rickshaw and subjecting them to sexual abuse.
The aged rickshaw driver who was later arrested physically abused a minor, a 7-year-old girl in Afshan Colony in Rawalpindi. Reportedly, the residents of that area caught the offender red-handed. Upon catching him in the heinous act of abusing the poor girl, the residents beat him black and blue. Later, they called the police and informed them about what they just witnessed. As soon as the police reached the site, the residents handed over the accused to them. Moreover, the police took notice of the incident and arrested the accused.
In addition to this, the accused has been identified as Abid Hussain. He has been charged with luring a minor and attempted sexual conduct with them. Moreover, the police took him into custody and shifted him to the police station. Confirming the arrest of the accused, the police assured further legal action to be taken against him. As per the sources, the case was registered at the request of the father of the victim girls. SHO Imran Abbas along with the team took immediate action and arrested accused Abid Hussain.
It is worthwhile to mention here that Section 346-A of the Pakistan Penal Code calls for the death penalty for the abduction of children under-14, which leads to his/her murder or rape. The bill was named after and approved on the second death anniversary of an eight-year-old girl, Zainab from Kasur. She was a victim of sexual abuse. The poor girl was raped and found dead in the heap of trash in Kasur on January 9. 2018.
Another child abuse case came forward the other day. The cops arrested a man for allegedly attempting to rape a 12-year-old girl and later, trying to throw her off a building in the Clifton area of the metropolis. Reportedly, four men were involved in the atrocious crime, but three managed to flee. Every day a child or a woman becomes a victim to the unspeakable crime. Reportedly, the actual cases are much higher than the ones found from a few reports.
Only an animal can rest an evil eye on a child. In my journalistic career, I covered a press conference of a 2 year old and 7 year old girl raped, resting innocently in their father’s arms all through the presser. The 2 and a half year old girl’s mom had put her in the fields while she ploughed. And during this time, someone just raped her. The doctors, after multiple surgeries, removed her uterus as it was completely damaged. And the father of seven year old couldn’t lift his eyes at the media, as if his daughter had committed a sin. And the journalists were enjoying, asking vulgar questions. Which kind of a society is this anyway?
Just yesterday, a horrific case of sexual violence against a child was reported. A two-and-a-half-year-old girl was first abducted, raped and then killed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday. The girl was identified as Zainab, who was abducted a day ago. Hospital sources said that according to the girl’s medical, the minor was raped 18 hours ago, after which the girl’s upper and lower torso were slashed with a knife. DNA samples of the girl have been sent to the Khyber Medical College, Peshawar and NADRA has also sought help from other agencies in this regard.
Cops said the victim was abducted in Charsadda and the body was recovered in the Daudzai area of Peshawar. Her clothes were recovered from the same spot. Officials added that a special police team has already been formed to arrest the perpetrator. The girl’s father had registered a complaint with the local police station after Zainab went missing on October 6. He had said in his police complaint that the girl went outside to play around 1pm and did not return home. He had added that the family looked at all possible places but did not find the toddler. After the police report was registered, the local police started an inquiry and during the course of their investigation, information was received regarding the body of a child being found in the Daudzai area. Regional Police Officer Mardan Sher Akbar Khan, DPO Charsadda Muhammad Shoaib Khan, SP Investigation Darwish Khan and other officers then rushed to the spot with a heavy contingent of law enforcers. Police then positively identified the missing girl’s body and shifted it to a medical facility for further procedures. A case of abduction and murder was then registered by the police. Further sections pertaining to sexual abuse will be added after verification by medical reports. Soon after the case came to light, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mehmood Khan ordered the IGP and other officials to immediately arrest those involved in the incident.
The KP chief minister said that the incident was very heartbreaking and inhumane, and those involved in the heinous crime would be made an example out of. Earlier in September, a five-year-old girl in Punjab was raped, hit on the head and set on fire. Five days later, a woman in Lahore was dragged from her car and sexually assaulted on a highway in front of her children. The two episodes, which occurred hundreds of miles apart, have prompted protests and an outpouring of rage in a country that critics say has a toxic culture surrounding sexual assaults and child abuse.
In another case that garnered much attention and anger, a burnt body of a five-year-old girl, M*, was found wrapped in a sheet in a garbage dump near Essa Nagri on August 5, 2020. The child had been kidnapped, raped and later murdered. Our society is being plagued by episodes of rape and child abuse over the years with the cases only becoming an almost daily occurrence.
Where are we headed? First women were not safe. Of course sexual crimes against men were never reported that much. But lust in both cases though disgusting, is still understandable. But crimes against kids is totally unacceptable. Mr. Prime Minister, we voted for you. With you in power, at least we are confident that we are on the right path and have much faith in your governess. That’s why the reported crimes have increased. But the need is for implementing very heavy penalties on such evil creatures so that the souls of others shudder before committing such acts! We want our kids to walk safely on the roads! We want them to be independent and confident as the future of our society lies among it’s youth! Let us all work together to make their childhood worth remembering and not scarred for life!