Pakistan needs a ‘no child left behind’ strategy

May 22,2019

Farishta family claims they contacted the police the next day but the police did not register an FIR. Her father said he went to the police stationseveral times but the police did not register the report, let alone take any action immediately.

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On May 15, 2019, ten-year-old Farishta was missing when she went out to play. Farisha’s family hails from Mohmand Agency, Peshawar Division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but currently they live in Chak Shahzad that is located on the eastern bank of the Rawal Lake in Islamabad.

Farishta family claims they contacted the police the next day but the police did not register an FIR. Her father said he went to the police stationseveral times but the police did not register the report, let alone take any action immediately.

It took the police three days to register a police report and even more time to launch a search for the missing child.

However, it was too late for her since her body was found in the bushes, four days after she had gone missing. She had been raped and murdered. According to experts of criminology when someone goes missing, the first 72hours are the most critical. Could Fareshta have still been alive had the police taken timely action?

It is unfortunate that the authorities come into action only if a case makes it into the media. Moreover, lately we have seen a number of such crimes making it into the headlines especially after the rape and murder of the child Zainab in Kasur last year. Her case shocked the country into accepting that children were vulnerable and there were monsters around who were preying on them. Before this, many people denied that there was a problem of such crimes against children. There were even people who thought rape was an alien concept that did not exist in our society. However, after Zainab’s case hit the headlines, such voices were lost in the uproar and anger that erupted across the nation.

Even after this, Farishta’s story had been in danger of becoming a part of thedaily reported crimes of murder and rape. It only got onto the radar after it became viral on social media and the mainstream media took it up, there were reports that Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari was also following the case closely. This is good news as far as ‘this’ case is concerned but what about the next one – for there will be a next one.The Minister could begin working on nationwide child protection strategy with input from parents, teachers and police and develop an automatic mechanism that comes into play if a crime against a minor is reported.Both the Federal and provincial governments could also focus on improved trainings for the police force at all levels to enhance their skills to tackle sensitive cases involving children.

Unfortunately, Zainab and Farishta could not be saved! But the governmentcan focus on a ‘no child left behind’ strategy in the future and form a structure in which immediate alerts are sent out when a child is reported missing, followed by action. The aim should be to increase the number of survivors of heinous crimes compared to the number of victims.


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