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May 23, 2019

Pakistan, protect your children


Thu, May 23, 2019

There is good news for Pakistan Hiba Jannat the child who was kidnapped from a road in Lahore has been reunited with her family. She was left at a mosque

3-year-old Hiba was kidnapped from a busy road in Lahore, while she was walking with her 4-year-old brother.

It is heartening to see unlike Farishta and other cases, this one had a happy ending. The kidnapper may have been scared off as his face had been spread across the media from CCTV footage from a shop he had bought something.

Lady Luck was kind this time that the Hiba returned apparently unharmed. The police made no real efforts from the beginning from the delay in registering an FIR. They didn’t seemed to be unmoved by what happened in Farishta’s case and if Hiba hadn’t been left at the mosque, she would have been another victim.

It seems if the footage of the kidnapping hadn’t been aired on the media chances of the child’s survival would have been low.

Just a recap of what was on the footage. On Wednesday (May 22, 2019)footagewas aired on the media that showedHibabeing led by her kidnapper, as he casually took her hand leaving her brother behind.

Strangely she allows him to hold her hand without any resistance – as if she knows him – and they begin walking away. There is even a moment where the boy and the unidentified man are speaking.

The boy then runs to the other side of the busy road and then returns as if he senses some danger. The way he runs and tries to reclaim Hiba is when you realize the man is kidnapping her.The demeanour of the man is calm and casualthroughout; he is in no hurry to get away.And hedoes not attempt to take the boy with him as well.

The frame freezes showing the blurred figure of Hiba’s brother as he runs towards them and the man holding her hand.

According to the media the police was conducting raids to recover the child and the police’s high-level officials had given their assurance that the police was making efforts to recover Hiba as soon as possible.

But it was probably the footage showing the kidnappers face across the media that spooked him and he left her at the mosque.

This does not mean that the danger is over. Every day the media is reporting at least one crimes against minors from different parts of the country, with more news from Punjab.This means that more work has to be done to protect minors from falling prey to predators lurking among us.

People are running hashtags like #DeathPenaltyForRape and #JusticeForFarishta and social media campaigns like ‘Stand up today for a safe tomorrow for our daughters’ and powerful slogans like “Tomorrow is too late. Stand up for woman today’.

The government should get down to business and needs to work on the police reforms it has been talking about since before elections. This is the time to put these plans into play to improve the police performance across the country, especially those who interact with families at the local police station.

There is no doubt that the government and police have a great responsibility towards the people of Pakistan. However, we cannot absolve parents and families of their responsibility towards children.

With frequent news about crimes against children being reported in the media, parents should be more concerned about the safety of children. Keeping children safe requires a concerted effort from authorities, parents and other people who would with children like teachers.

Pakistani society is a good structure to keep children safe. Many people either live in joint families or they live close to their families. This closeness can be used to advantage by delegating adults from the family and neighboured after proper screening to keep an eye out for suspicious people in the area and to make periodical checks on the children to see if they are safe.

Young children, who are vulnerable themselves, should not be made to babysit younger siblingsespecially outside on the streets. They should not run errands alone or walk home alone from tuitions and religious classes at any time of the day, especially at night. Someone should take the responsibility of being around at all time.

Meanwhile the authorities need to move fast and make sure the existing protection laws are properly enforced. Work on pending bills and amendments to protection laws shouldpassed be expedited, so they can be put into motion immediately.

Only a combined effort by parents and authorities can ensure the safety of children and ensure that the number of such crimes are decreased.