A society declines when its powerful and rich people are allowed to indulge in corruption and other social evils, while the downtrodden and powerless people suffer cruelties and face injustice.
A society is dead when it does not save its children from the cruel clutches of evil people. A society ruins when its teachers molest innocent and helpless students. A society collapses when its members do not react to cruelties and tragic incidents perpetrated on innocent children, the future of a nation and society. Unfortunately, the government of Pakistan has failed to provide protection to helpless and innocent children.
In Mansehra, a 10-year-old child was allegedly molested more than 100 times by a madrasa teacher and his companions. According to news reports, “Madrasa teacher, identified as Shamsuddin, along with three associates, assaulted a 10-year-old boy for over a hundred times. Shamsuddin and his accomplices not only abused the minor but also inflicted inhuman torture on the victim while performing the heinous crime. The brutal assault on the child was carried out with such cruelty that the blood started flowing from the eyes of the innocent”. Tragically, the child – in reality, not idiomatically – started shedding tears of blood.
The accused has been arrested and the seminary sealed. The victim has been hospitalised, where he is recovering physically. But, the wounds which he has received on his soul and mind will never heal. He will be haunted by the bleeding, festering and smouldering wounds throughout his life. He will never be a normal human being in society. His innocence has been slaughtered; his childhood has been destroyed; his belief in goodness has been smashed; his love for humanity has been destroyed; his respect for teachers and preachers has been shattered; his faith in humanitarian and philanthropic services has been battered; his idealism of moral values has been broken; his respect in his own eyes has been trampled. He would start detesting himself. He could become cynic, loathing all teachers, moralists and human beings. He might become reactionary. He could become a very fearful creature, taking refuge in loneliness and seclusion. Anything can happen, but one thing is sure that he will not be able to lead a normal life in society and he would die every minute in his life.
After seeing the victim’s picture, every civilised society could have been shocked and protested till getting justice for him and the implementation of reforms. But, in Pakistani society, the reaction was very discouraging and poor. Tragically, the people of Pakistan have started to take such sort of tragic incidents for granted because they are occurring again and again.
According to Sahil, a child protection society, “Harassment cases with minors are rapidly increasing in Pakistan. Only in 2019, from January to June, 1,304 cases of abuse of children were reported in the media. The number of girls and boys is 729 and 575, respectively. The cases under significant classes included 378 of snatching, 139 of assault and 153 of abuse. Twelve young boys and four girls were killed after maltreatment”.
The End of Childhood Index also ranked Pakistan at number 149 out of 174 countries. After the tragic incident of eight-year-old Zainab in Kasur in January 2018, the entire nation was shocked. Although, Imran Ali, the convict in the case, has been hanged, and now the court has handed down the death sentence to Shahzad in the Chunian case, there is no letup in the heinous crime against children. The tragic incident of 10-year Farishta, who was assaulted and killed in 2019 in Islamabad and now the abuse of a 10-year boy have already occurred. This is tragic. There is no doubt about it that the PTI government and the police have utterly failed to save children from abuse. However, to appease the anger of the people, lawmakers in the KP assembly have decided to form a parliamentary body to introduce amendments to the existing laws on child abuse by including the death penalty. But, practically, they will not do anything due to the fear of losing support of the religious followers. It is allegedly said that the teacher belongs to a religious party.
The government and the police are protecting the real culprits, who are involved in the heinous crime. Two examples can be cited this regard. The police have arrested Sohail Ayaz, a consultant for the KP Governance and Policy Project, for allegedly abusing 30 children in 2019. The suspect is affiliated with an international child pornography racket. He has been deported from the UK after being convicted of child abuse. He is also considered the ringleader of an international dark web. He has also faced trial in Italy for child abuse before being deported from the country. In spite of the horrible facts, Sohail Ayaz has not yet been convicted and sentenced. The reason is simple. He is a member of a powerful group, which will not let him to be sentenced or expose the names of other group members. Kasur’s Hussain Khanwala village’s abuse scandal that emerged in 2015 is another example which proves that powerful people cannot be touched and punished in Pakistan. The police took into custody hundreds of video clips showing a gang forcing dozens of young boys and girls to perform indecent acts and filming them. The gang also used the videos to blackmail the families of the victims and extorted millions in cash and jewellery from them. In spite of the facts, no action has been taken against the real culprits due to their political influence and power.
The media and civil society should highlight the issue and create awareness among the people. Parents and schools should educate children how to deal with strangers and react when faced with inappropriate moves by other people, including relatives. The government should also expedite work on the Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Bill 2019, which ensures the recovery and rescue of lost children and punishment for kidnappers, pedophiles and murderers. The government and the police should not protect any person who is involved in the heinous crime, if they want to save innocent children and the future of the country.