What is happening in Kasur brings up the most chilling images. The reason these stories surface again and again from the district in Punjab is linked to our failure to tackle it both at the local...
What is happening in Kasur brings up the most chilling images. The reason these stories surface again and again from the district in Punjab is linked to our failure to tackle it both at the local level and more widely. In the latest incident reported on Tuesday the body of one little boy and the remains of two others were found on the sand dunes of an industrial estate adjacent to Kasur. Over the past three months, a series of kidnapping of small children has been reported from Kasur. The hapless parents of the children say they had reported their missing children to the police over and over again but received only a dismissive response. Even the search conducted on Tuesday took place after protesters took to the streets. It is difficult to understand what pattern is being followed this time. But police say there is a similarity in the kidnapping. We do not know if other abductions have not been reported.
Why is it that we are unable to protect our children – boys and girls? The 2015 child abuse and pornography cases in Kasur led to no arrests. Instead, it seems the victims have been punished. Almost all the children and parents who reported the abusive videos have slipped away from the area to unknown places presumably to protect their dignity and begin new lives. The rape and murder of seven-year old Zainab in early 2018 attracted headlines, but left no lasting impact beyond that. We often forget that before Zainab 10 other minor girls had also been raped and in some cases murdered. Is there no one to speak for them? Will no one protect little children?
We should also remember that many such victims are the most vulnerable members of our community. They are poor and have no voice in a setup where only the influential can expect justice. The form justice takes can also be terribly distorted. A large-scale investigation is required in Kasur. But beyond this we also need to spread awareness about child abuse and alert children on the need to protect themselves. They need to know about strangers, and about informing their parents if any offensive act takes place whether at home, school or elsewhere. The Child Protection Welfare Bureau of Punjab has visited Kasur and distributed leaflets. But this is obviously not enough. Simply advising little girls to cover themselves up will not save them. The state has a responsibility to keep our children secure. That can only happen with a change in both mindset and law enforcement. Without that we have no right to call ourselves a decent society where all people can live under a net of safety.