The discovery of another three bodies of children that were sexually abused in Kasur tells us that the #JusticeForZainab movement all but failed in creating discourse on the child abuse problem in Pakistan, nor did the public hanging of the perpetrator do enough in deterring future criminals from this crime. Kasur keeps making headlines for the wrong reasons, which makes us believe that this problem is restricted to one district in Punjab. But make no mistake; this is a national problem. There are cases of child abuse all over the country – Kasur’s victims are just the only ones that have surfaced.

Successive governments have failed in responding to this serious problem. The crime of sexual abuse is not related to only one aspect of the state’s failure to protect its citizens; there are a plethora of reasons for why this continues to take place. Apart from a lack of implementation of the laws of the country, a failure in policing – the inability to protect citizens, conduct investigations and find the right perpetrator for each crime committed (there are reports that Zainab’s rapist was coerced by the police into admitting involvement in other child abuse cases as well) – is one of the more obvious causes for child abuse in Pakistan.

But there are deeper issues that lie below the surface – the police can nab a thousand perpetrators and the state can hang all of them and this problem still won’t be eradicated. It is high time that this country engages in a serious discussion regarding child abuse. Whether it is the lack of a healthy, communicative relationship between parents and children, or the fact that these issues are considered too taboo to ever see the light of day – Pakistan’s society needs to zero in on the reasons due to the astronomical number of child sexual abuse cases in the country.

It probably also has to do with sexual repression – as an Islamic state, Pakistan’s values are different than its western counterparts, but this does not mean that we shut down any discussion on sexual and reproductive health. This problem is too serious to ignore, and no longer can the state and citizens of the country put off debating the issue of child molestation in the country – the perpetrators count on our society’s ability to look away whenever this is brought up through new victims surfacing. The future of our country is at stake; we cannot let these monsters take advantage of the vulnerability of children any longer, the government needs to take policy initiatives before more children are brutalised.