Where will the buck stop?

In last three years, over 700 cases were reported on child rapes and murders from Kasur alone. Over 700. That’s a large number for a small town. 2015 was the worst year with 451 cases of recorded child abuse. For every one case registered, many go unreported.

Why are such cases so high in number in this area? First and the most basic is lack of educating the child not to trust a stranger. In most cases the parents too are uneducated regarding causes of a possibility of such a horrible incident happening. However, in many cases the culprit may not be a stranger at all but a relative or someone otherwise known to the family. There needs to be a focused awareness that certain kinds of “touches” are not right and to be reported to family elder, or teacher if this happens in school environment. The state must make sex education mandatory in schools and madrassas. This education can save many lives. Second, the elders are often unaware of the importance of timely medical tests that can be of great help in such cases. Third is a very weak system of investigation. The FIR either will support the stronger party in the case, or due to genuine incompetence that overlooks details that create more confusion than correct course of direction to nab the culprits. Fourth, the judicial process is long-winded. The prosecution is not robust and most get acquitted. The Kasur pornography child scandal case is still pending with four accused granted bail on grounds of benefit of doubt. This known case came to light in 2015, spanning a period from 2006 to 2014 in Hussain Khanwala village in the District of Kasur. “Villagers told Reuters that a prominent family there has for years forced children to perform sex acts on video. The footage was sold or used to blackmail their impoverished families.” (The Dawn; Updated January 10, 2018)

This in spite of the fact that Pakistan is a signatory of UNCRC, a human rights treaty that spells out various rights of under 18 children that include economic, cultural, social, political, civil and health rights of the children

This in spite of the fact that Pakistan is a signatory of UNCRC, a human rights treaty that spells out various rights of under 18 children that include economic, cultural, social, political, civil and health rights of the children.

As per a newspaper report, the DNA tests of Zainab reveal there is a prominent and unmistakable similarity with previous murders having taken place in Kasur. Not just the DNA other elements surrounding the crime match perfectly like the age factor, minors go amiss for a few days before their bodies are found and all were strangled to death.

Protest over the abuse, rape and murder of Zainab took a tragic turn when police shot straight at unarmed protestors at the DPO office. Two died, injuring five others. One reportedly died later. One is flabbergasted that this police is untrained enough to know that with unarmed people you shoot at the ground of the feet of people, at the most you shoot to hurt not kill. This is rule of the thumb taught to every security guard of a private company. It is unimaginable that the police were blatantly unaware of something so basic. In this caselathi charge, use of tear gas and in extreme situation arrest would probably have been enough.

The 12th case of this nature in Kasur with police not having arrested any culprit or even suspect in a single case raises questions on the professional approach and genuine willingness of the police to resolve these issues. Is the arrest of two policemen and two civil defense officials and suspending the DPO for 10 days enough? Not if we look at the bigger picture: twelfth murder/rape of minor with nothing to show!

A few days after the mangled body of Zainab was found, the political parties hijacked it making it into a scoring point “event” trivialising the human tragedy.

No one however is willing to accept responsibility for this bestial act. “When the CM Punjab says, or in this case tweets, that those failing in their duties to arrest those responsible will face action — he doesn’t appear to understand that the buck stops with him. And as for the police, who by their own admission, are struggling to hunt down those behind 12 similar murders in the last two years, they decided to show how seriously they took Shehbaz Sharif’s words by killing at least two men from the protesting crowd.” (Editorial Daily Times, January 11, 2018)

Nothing short of the harshest of punishment must be met out to those involved. But 12 murders/rapes and nothing to show is not a good record. It makes one wonder if Zainab will just become another statistic. One can in this backdrop also understand the anger and outburst of the people of Kasur.

Crimes however will not end with awarding capital punishment to culprits in Zainab’s case. But it will give out a strong message that actions have consequences. A message not yet given out to these miscreants in Kasur as in case of sex acts on video is a case to point – this will make these animals think ten times before committing such crimes. This is undoubtedly a deterrent. Also, each act of violence is balanced by an equal punishment. And should be.

As Zainab’s parents’ wait for justice so do eleven set of earlier parents. The police says to Apex Court that no clue found to Zainab’s abductor, rapist and killer. Where will the buck stop? And when?

Yasmeen Aftab Ali
Weekly Op-Ed Columnist: Pakistan Today
Author of ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan’
Blogs at http://pakpotpourri2.wordpress.com/
Twitter ID: @yasmeen_9

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