The horrific incident of Zainab’s murder has sparked anger on a national level against those who are involved in such heinous cases. The government and opposition in the national assembly are determined to set an example by punishing the offender with an exemplary sentence. There is almost a consensus in the lower house to take concrete steps beyond swift resolution of the case itself, like the inclusion of chapters on sexual harassment in the curriculum of schools and madrasahs for awareness among children, to prevent incidents of this nature in future.

The recommendations of the lower house in this regard are appreciable. Especially, the proposal to include chapters on sexual harassment in school syllabuses is the need of the hour.

The Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb has lamented that even after 18th Amendment to the constitution none of the provinces has included any chapter on sexual harassment in the textbooks. However, it is also true that the Federation has also failed in issuing any direction or advisory note to the provinces in this regard.

At the same time, the argument of the opposition leader cannot be turned when he said that Zainab could have saved, had the state taken steps in the past against child molesters. How can one forget the story of Javed Iqbal who murdered more than 100 children? It is the failure of state since then that no concrete policy has been put on the table.

But there are complexities, which need to be considered while devising a strategy to stop such incidents in future. It is not only long-term policies that will help the state to control such crimes, but the government also needs to come up with short and medium-term policies.

Given that education is a provincial domain after the 18th amendment we have witnessed that the standard of education is regressing, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Expecting that content regarding sexual harassment will be part of textbooks in KP, where images and depictions of girls without scarfs have been removed from the books and content ‘Islamised”, is nothing but wild imagination, to say the least.

The recommendations of the lower house should take a form of a concrete policy to curtail the widespread issue of sexual abuse. The ensuing debate in the National Assembly should move beyond mere resolutions. 18th Amendment should not bar the federation to enforce some concrete policies and measures that need an implementation to stop any such perverse action in future. The federal education departments need to assert some authority over provinces, at least as far as divergences in syllabus content is concerned – even if that requires new legislation from the Parliament.