The New Year began with awful news for Pakistanis. On the 4th of January, little Zainab’s tragedy left everyone shaken to their very cores.
However, it wasn’t the first that the world was hearing about such a heinous crime that found its roots in Kasur. The child pornography wounds from the years before are still a vivid memory for many.
Reportedly, nearly 280 children were being sexually exploited in Kasur.
After Zainab’s unfortunate demise, numerous cases were highlighted. Little Asma from Mardan was another angel who lost her life in a similar manner.
Consequently, there were many conversations regarding the matter at hand.
Who do you think is responsible for Zainab?#JusticeForZainab
Posted by Wajood on Donnerstag, 11. Januar 2018
Moreover, other cases were highlighted on social media platforms.
So girl Eman Fatima was also killed the way zainab was killed. The killer was apparently killed by police according to the police reports. Today we find out the killer is alive(according to Shahbaz shareef). Since DNA found on Eman and Zainab is same. Who was killed earlier then?
— Hassaan Niazi (@HniaziISF) January 23, 2018
I recall, very clearly, that there was a boy in Faisalabad, a girl in Sargodha, and another in Bhalwal. All found raped and murdered on the same day this news broke. Probably others that slipped my mind.
Where is the forensic team for them? Where is their JIT?
— Buffetkhor (@MyDixonCider) January 23, 2018
Apart from this, local publications and news channels put forward some highly shocking statistics. They are as follows:
- “The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said that 1,582 rape cases were reported in 2016, more than twice the year before, with child rape cases rising by 10%.” – Los Angeles Times
- “At least 222 cases of sexual abuse against children were reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) between May 2011 and December 2017, statistics released by KP Child Protection and Welfare Commission show. The data reveals that a total of 29,026 vulnerable children were registered with the department during the period, of which 17,794 were males, 11,226 females, and six transgenders.” – Dawn
- “Lahore saw 107 cases of child rape, the report prepared by Punjab’s additional chief secretary and additional inspector general says while pointing out that 2017 saw a higher number of reported child rape cases than 2016. In two years, 1,297 cases of child rape were reported in Punjab.” – Dawn
- “The Ministry of Human Rights has told the National Assembly that since 2013 a whopping 17, 862 cases of child abuse have been reported in the country.” – The Express Tribune
- “As many as 11 cases of child sexual abuse are reported from across Pakistan every day, according to data collected by the non-governmental organization, Sahil.” – Geo News
Regardless of whether you look at these statistics collectively or on their own, they spell sheer horror for our nation.
Whether it’s the 280 children in Kasur or the 1297 cases in Punjab – those numbers aren’t just numbers. They’re actual children reduced to numbers on a report. We may not see their faces, as we did with Zainab or Asma. Additionally, we may not even know what they endured. However, they all have families who mourn their loss. They all have lives that were cut short in the most heinous manner.
For instance, we were all unaware of 5-year-old Ayesha’s tragedy that was similar to Zainab’s.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Ayesha was taken from a wedding in January 2017. Her father, Mohammed Asif, stated that they received her forensic report informing them of her fate only after Zainab’s murder was highlighted by the media.
Similarly, little Kainat from Kasur was another angel who suffered brutality. However, she survived.
Two months before Zainab’s case was brought to light, Kainat was attacked and dumped in the trash.
— Hamid Mir (@HamidMirPAK) January 11, 2018
All these cases and highly disturbing numbers beg the same question: why is Pakistan still silent?
Yes, we had the initial outcry each time an incident was highlighted. Conversations regarding the importance of sex education started taking place. Moreover, the importance of good and bad touches was stressed upon. However, just as the roar began all at once, it died down just as fast. The cases kept on being reported. Statistics kept showing up on our social media platforms. The hashtags died down.
While many noticed the same on Twitter…
My two cents: Everyone pretends like justice has been served and prder has been restored after the alleged serial rapist from Kasur has been apprehended.
In just the first day of the Media frenzy surrounding the Zainab case, half a dozen similar cases were reported across Punjab
— Buffetkhor (@MyDixonCider) January 23, 2018
While Pakistan losing it's shit on word "Lanat"#JusticeForZainab got buried under pile of corrupt regime.
If we give up on it this time; we won't be able to forgive ourselves.
— Ali (@OyeQazilbash) January 19, 2018
…especially once Zainab’s killer was caught…
Catching Zainab's murderer is only the first step. The real task begins now: there is a ring of paedophiles and child pornographers operating in Kasur. The Govt must identify the ring leaders, accomplices and the distributors and purchasers of child pornography in Kasur.
— ایمان زینب (@ImaanZHazir) January 23, 2018
No police reforms. No increasing vigilance for children in Kasur and overall Punjab. No crackdown on organized exploitation of children in the province. No taking the CM to account. But, yes, demand for a media circus. Because more eyeballs = more $$$ for news channels. https://t.co/enZAyYHlNG
— Abdullah Saad (@kursed) January 23, 2018
…the conversation spread to Reddit as well.
The silence became deafening.
We’re all well aware that there’s a lot more to Kasur than what meets the eye.
Theories have been afloat regarding the same. However, can we really afford to be lax about this at a time where our children are no longer safe in any environment? Does it not terrify us that our children aren’t safe either indoors or outdoors? Are we not petrified that the monsters we assume lurk in dark corners could possibly be a stone’s throw away?
Given the way events have transpired, each one of us shoulders the responsibility to do more than we have.
Vigils to remember the deceased and tweets sending out thoughts and prayers may offer peace of mind, but we’re not living in a time that requires us to look for peace in such immense chaos.
On an individual level, we can all still make enough noise and pledge to not stop till we see any semblance of change.
For Zainab, Asma, Ayesha, and Kainat.
For the children whose names we do not know.
For our children, who we pray do not end up as a number on a report one day.
We absolutely must not stay silent.
Shahzeb Khanzada Urged Parents To Teach Their Children About Sexual Abuse And That’s Exactly What Pakistan Needs
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Cover image: B.K. Bangash/Associated Press