By Muhammad Amir Saleem
Protecting our children from the most gruesome of the crimes – child abuse, torture and mistreatment- is our collective responsibility. The first and the foremost responsibility is of our legislatures who have power to enact law in legislative assemblies. In America, prior to 1874, there was no law to protect children, but, with the passage of time, the maturity and sensibility prevailed helping community to form laws and agencies to provide the safest and the most congenial environment to their children; the environment that helps a child to nurture his/her cognitive ability and avail the most suitable surroundings which nature offers to them as their divine right. The series of sex abuse cases surfaced in recent years in Pakistan are the matter of real concern. In particular, the case of Zainab got much limelight and this undoubtedly highlighted the weaknesses of our existing system by all aspects- from individual to as a group or from political to legal.
Innocent souls, before Zainab, were trampled under sinful and lustful feet by the perpetrator of humanity in Kasur. The criminal inaction from law enforcement agencies is a questionable matter. However, the abject ignorance and indifference of the people and relatives living in the parameters of the most vulnerable environ can also be put into the question as to why the people in such environment did not take the precautionary steps and made their children aware of such happenings. Neither, close vigilante system within the community came into existence, nor the individuals remained observant and casted any doubts of the free movement of children with strangers or with familiar acquaintances in their locality. This refers to an overall empathetic attitude of us as a nation; we do not want to become part of the misery and problem of anyone. Rather, we need news and gossips to pass our spare time! The emergence of such news and incidents are rampant in societies where community is in grip of individualism. Whilst, the religion (Islam) we follow, teaches us to become active part of society and to supervise the need or plight of inhabitants living close to us. Unfortunately, the spirit in Islam of being united and emotive towards others problems have been in abeyance.
The inability of legal system to punish criminals on merit not only emboldens criminals to roam freely but also increases crime rate. Police investigation procedure, at times, raises doubts, if favour extended to influential clients, can shape the entire legal proceedings in court at specific direction. This unscrupulous practice for years has discredited the police as a system. In addition to this, it being an instrument and tool of political forces has further eroded the impartiality aspect of it among citizens who rather resort to take the law in their own hands- converting the whole fabric of society into intolerant one. The extra-judicial killings and fake encounters cover temporarily up the inefficiency of police but permanently dent the repute among citizen.
The rating game among media houses has drifted them away from the true standards of journalism – refraining government from wrong doings; assisting government in good deeds; creating unity among people and pointing out of the basic problems of people. In effect, the morning shows are ripe with unnecessary issues and ludicrous talks. The evening shows are full of heated arguments, allegations, castigation, mudslinging and predictions; appear more to thrust their opinion into the minds of viewers. This does not mean that all journalists and media houses are to be blamed, but there are some who give preference to professionalism over monetary aspect and artificial repute.
Unity, sense of responsibility and mass awareness can be imparted among people with the help of quality education encircling religious, cultural and social dimensions. Consequently, the quality and standard of education should be dealt as a national agenda.
*The writer is a teacher.