Protecting our Children


It’s seven tragedies too many. The horrific ordeal of not one, not two, but seven children forced to hold their breath under the shadows of horrific abuse in just seven days across Lahore has managed to go unnoticed amid the ongoing climatic emergency. That the victims included a mentally challenged girl, a madressah student, a star-crossed guest and someone lured away from the safety of his house is irrefutable evidence about these cases being just the tip of the gruesome iceberg. No child is safe anywhere. Since only a handful of the parents can stomach the excruciating biases and dare step forward to register a complaint, the actual picture is much, more harrowing. After all, the human race is unique in its fixation on finding fault with the wronged while the accused manages to spin the narrative with incredible ease.
Although the violence committed against all six has scarred them for life–leaving a crippling impact on their psychological well-being, and their ability to trust themselves or anyone around them–,what happened to the seventh (a 10-year-old girl) simply takes the cake. As if subjecting her to sexual assault was not enough to satiate the beasts running freely among us, her dead body was left to float on the surface of a swimming pool. There is not much the viral hashtag would achieve, other than adding some flashing headlines to the sensationalist circus. Our nation has, largely, become immune to these horrors because neither societal strictures nor legislative frameworks are succeeding to put an end to the rampant scourge. The moral police always busies itself with criticism of the victims for the clothes they wore, the people they decided to interact with, and the hour they stepped out of their homes. Quite interestingly, the fact that sexual abuse of young boys between the ages of six and 10 is on the rise might push them to see the writing on the wall. Maybe, this alarming frequency would help them realise that the only solution is to pull back the drapes of shame and secrecy and assign blame where it belongs: on the rapist. No legislation is good enough on paper unless followed by fool-proof implementation. But, before railing against law enforcement agencies for immediate tracking down of the abusers and the justice system for effective prosecution, we need to ask ourselves an unsettling question: are we ready to address the elephant in the room?
No matter how back-breakingly hard the going gets, the state still needs to pay attention to this heart-wrenching trend and bring its full force against any and all complaints. Only a stellar criminalisation record can encourage others to talk about the unspoken. The tragedies have to stop!