Zainab’s molester and killer has finally been arrested for her rape and murder and for killing seven other adolescent girls from the same area. According to some reports, he has confessed to the crime.
Families, communities, clerics, teachers and local administration in our country are so oblivious of potential psycho-social-path(s) within the neighbourhoods that this serial molester-killer continued with his sadist criminal pursuits for years. Indeed, after thorough psychoanalysis, the paedophiliac-killer deserves to be given an ‘exemplary punishment’ as required by law, and through a due judicial process.
But the whole focus on giving the alleged culprit inquisitional punishment, such as a public hanging, is unlikely to deter other countless psychopaths – and, no doubt, there are countless such people out there. The Senate Standing Committee on Interior has apparently recommended changes in the PPC so as to allow for public hangings of those who are found involved in sexual crimes and murder of children.
The focus should have been on how to save the infinite numbers of Zainabs who become a victim of paedophilia that is so rampant in homes, localities, communities, schools, seminaries and playgrounds. Though the national outrage over such brutal sexual crimes expresses our national guilt, our societal shame cannot be compensated by begetting brutality with brutality. With the hanging of the accused man, all this national fury will go to sleep over what is a daily occurrence. Unfortunately, we prefer to keep paedophilia under wraps to avoid humiliation and cover-up shame – forgetting that the victims are likely to suffer from severe depression and many post-traumatic disorders for the rest of their lives.
Paedophilia exists everywhere, regardless of religion and Oriental or Western civilisation. It is also not due to the bad influence of Western culture or dilution of the pristine Eastern culture the way our self-appointed moral brigades have been trying to drum up unabated. It is now much documented that religious seminaries, whether of Christians and Muslims or other faiths, are not immune to paedophilia. In fact, child abuse is rather quite rampant in places of learning and where children are employed as labour.
The killer of Zainab and seven other girls was a religious person who is also known to have been a naat-khwan. Imran Naqshbandi (his full name) had also offered funeral prayers for Zainab behind the prayer-leader. It is interesting to note that while our society is one of the most religious Muslim societies among the comity of Muslim-majority nations with an incomparable mullah/people ratio, it is still among those countries where child sexual abuse is quite rampant. It is also noteworthy that the Subcontinent also suffers due to a flourishing industry of male potency quackery and religious pirs who use this insecurity among men for their own material ends.
Yet, our moral hypocrisy forbids us from giving sex education or awareness about sexual abuse to our children. Parents are not cautious about incest or paedophilia. Children are not aware of what is sexual abuse, nor are they prepared to resist it or speak about it. They are repressed both by their families and society at large and so suffer from depression and various psychological disorders. In some areas, sexual abuse of young boys is not considered much of a social stigma.
Gender discrimination while raising boys and girls is starkly different: girls are taught to be subservient and boys are boosted to show their masculine prowess. In fact, in the face of stronger female presence, men end up reacting in aggressive ways to show their masculinity. There are ineffective laws and nominal departments in all our provinces to protect children from sexual and various other abuses, such as child labour. The fact is that the wellbeing, healthy growth, education and nourishment of our children are not our national priority, even though our children constitute half of our population.
The accused in the Zainab case, a psychopath, has taken the plea that it was not him but djinns who made him commit his horrific crimes. In his book, ‘Character-Analysis’, Wilhelm Reich refers to three different layers of biopsychic structure in the evaluation of human reactions. According to the great psycho-analyst, “these layers of the character structure are deposits of social development, which function autonomously. On the surface layer of his personality the average man is reserved, polite, compassionate, responsible and conscientious. There would be no social tragedy of the human animal if this surface layer of the personality were in direct contact with the deep natural core. This, unfortunately, is not the case. The surface layer of social cooperation is not in contact with the deep biologic core of one’s selfhood; it is borne by a second, an intermediate character layer, which consists exclusively of cruel, sadist, lascivious, rapacious and envious impulses”. It represents the Freudian “unconscious” or “what is repressed” or in Reich’s sex-economy “the sum total of all so-called “secondary drives”. This conflict of the character structure of the suppressed man not only produces sexual maniacs, but also creates fascist sentiment which if combined with extremist ideologies produces terrorists and suicide-bombers.
A repressed and suppressed man is bound to react in a way that tears apart his surface layer of piety. If ethical and social ideals of liberalism advocate self-control to suppress the “monster in man”, religious scholars emphasise the primacy of ethical values and moral inhibitions. Both have failed to address the real psycho-social causes behind the emergence of the beast they both hate.
An authoritarian system and its mechanical-mystical conception of life will continue to suppress humans, which will, eventually, produce rapists and fascists. Unless the upper sober layer of humans comes into contact with and to the satisfaction of the third biological core, tragedies such as the cases of Zainab or Asma will continue to happen. In the meanwhile, certain safety measures are required to safeguard our children. Parents, children, communities, teachers and maulvis should be educated about sexuality and sexual abuse. Life skills need to be imparted to children so that they can defend themselves against sexual assault. If we will not educate our educators, our parents and our children about sexual abuse, our young ones will continue to remain vulnerable to sexual assault and abuse.
The writer is a senior journalist.