Recently, the media – print and electronic alike – has been seen dedicating unprecedented space and airtime to incidents of child rape. Whether this trend is reflective of an actual increase in such cases cannot be ascertained with certainty due to non-availability of credible data. Reports from across the country have revealed horrific tales of girls, as young as five, falling victims to the barbarity of fellow members of society. They have invited shock and outrage, and kept people glued to their TV screens and fixated on the newspapers before them in search of the new and the latest. This, perhaps, explains the sudden emergence of the phenomenon. Perhaps the idea is not to secure justice for the children, but to sell what sells best. This is proven by the conspicuous absence of stories involving thousands of teenage and adult women. Far greater in number and facing similar injustices – they have been deemed undeserving of media’s attention. This unfortunate scenario highlights the fact that we deal now in relative horror; and adult rape, no longer makes the cut.

News that manages to make it to the paper or TV only does so after undergoing a rather cruel process. Good news is mostly deemed useless so it is the first to be discarded. In the next phase, and this is where adult rape survivors lose out to children, bad news is pitted against worse news. Horrific stories are ‘objectively’ scrutinized and measured for their shock value. Determining this is impossible without being aware of the collective psyche of a society, or as seen by the individuals involved in the process; the audience. In Pakistan, misogyny runs deep. Culture and religion enables masses to not only tolerate anti-women practices, but also come out in support of repression. First, an individual rapes a woman. Then, it is the entire society which provides elaborate justifications for the unjustifiable act, condemns the victim, and stands in her way to ensure that justice is never served. Her plight carries no appeal for the desensitized ‘audience’. At this stage, corporate interests of media organisations and society’s ills join hands to ensure that women fail to ‘make the cut.’ Their collective indifference shapes next morning’s newspaper as well as the agenda for the popular evening talk show. So, the blame has to be shared. However, the evolution of a society requires education and time. But, a shift in the editorial policy can be achieved in a second.