Child abuse scandal: Pakistan has failed its children once again

The failure is collective, make no mistake

Children are the future, they say. They are proof that God is not yet disappointed with humanity, they say. A little baby’s laughter, the innocence of toddlers, the curiosity and tenacity of pre-pubescents – they are all equally wonderful as they are enigmatic. 

On December 16, 2014, there was no dry eye when 141 beautiful little children were killed mercilessly by Taliban. There was plenty of rage and emotion and hurt and scurrying of committees and political and military statements. A few months down the line, we see ‘banned’ extremist organization holding pro-Army rallies and holding alliances with politicians and even hear them giving interviews. In Akora, Sami ul Haq pledged allegiance to Taliban’s new spokesperson. Business as usual. One hundred and forty one beautiful little children. Gone. That’s 282 parents, their extended families/friends (the number being higher than merely 141) whose lives will be merely a shadow of life itself. Their joys are in a cold hard grave somewhere. 

On August 8, 2015, a frightening and horrifying scandal surfaced, once again that targeted our children. Once again there was hurt and rage and questions and justifications. Once again discussions and social media is on fire with rants and crossfires. The details of the scandal are absolutely nerve wrecking. And amongst all the verbosity of debates, the real victims are forgotten.

As reported by The Nation, the abuse mafia began operating in 2006. It was blackmailing, torturing, sexually exploiting children. Abuse ranged from ordering children to perform sexual abuse on each other and were later asked to produce money to stop these videos from going public. The even more harrowing detail is in how these videos were marketed in various countries. It is difficult for me to talk about this without a terrible feeling of doom and anguish. The thought of those 280 children traumatised for life, subjected to humiliation and spinal injections – is horrifying.

The failure is collective, make no mistake. The fault lies with our political preferences (which we so rush to defend, regardless of the crimes our political gods commit). The Nation’s reporter Ashraf Javed stated that PMLN MPA was Malik Ahmad Saeed who pressurised the police for the suspect’s release. It is also suggested that he tried to hush up the scandal/abuse instead of exposing the criminals. The plight sounds familiar. A PMLN MNA was recently caught in a rape controversy but the victim ‘withdrew’ the allegations the very next day. One can expect a political reply to a non-political situation for something as horrible as this Kasur tragedy as well.

The fault lies in our justice system which is so deeply politicised and allows influence of military and political setups. Terrorists are able to roam free and openly threat sitting judges if and when they dare to rule against the criminals. The fault lies in inadequate laws. Assemblies and parliamentarians and lawyers that are so quick to ban “Urdu pronunciations” for Arabic words, quick to label everyone as traitors, happy to sit on talk shows and give circular logics, love parading on the streets with their party slogans and beat each other up over by-elections, fail to understand the emergency situation that we have on our hands. Our future is being massacred and exploited and abused in front of our very eyes and we are making excuses. There was even someone who said that parents are the most responsible in such a case. 

The fault lies in the danger we have created for victims. We have made our society into an unsafe place for those who want to speak out against atrocities. Whenever it is the weak or the poor who want justice, we have made it a point to stand with the elite. We have come up with various types of justifications against injustices. “She wore a skirt so she was raped.” “Parents are to blame because their children got abducted.” “It’s not political.” “Parents must have been involved.” Ad infinitum.

The fault lies in our institutions that have no clear stance on sexual violence, especially when it comes to children. Pakistan has failed its children once again. The laws are feeble at best. The NGOs, the child protection bodies have failed us. The policies, the army, the democracy. This is all becoming a blurry bunch of statements in front of the glaringly obvious moment of pain and humiliation.

Mahwash Ajaz is a supermom by day (and night), blogger, psychologist, art, history and movie buff with all the other time that's left

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