The Senate has amended the Zainab Alert Bill, which means that provinces will finally be forced to bring in measures against child abuse. By expanding the jurisdiction of the law, the government has basically ensured that the bill will be worthwhile after all. Measures against child sexual abuse that only exist in the capital would quite obviously not achieve the objective that the entire country wants to see the state strive for.

The changes to the jurisdiction were only necessary because of the 18th amendment. Provinces should recognise however, that federal laws passed especially in matters of crime and punishment should be seen as the state providing guidance on how the provinces should function as well. Members of both houses of the federal parliament hail from all provinces, and their unanimous agreement on such an issue tells us that each party in the country currently supports this law. Provincial governments cannot differ from their federal counterparts in this, and must hasten to pass the same law in their own assemblies as well.

The provisions of punishments for both offenders and law enforcement officials that deny the right to lodge FIRs in such cases makes for a valid deterrence from both angles, and if implemented properly, we might be able to slowly rid society of the sexual abuse of children.

Zainab’s brutal assault in 2018 was certainly an eye-opener for many to the gravity of the situation, but it was by no means an outlier, as the many other cases in Kasur alone tell us. Only the strictest law and its implementation in every possible way can ensure that our children are protected from this horrific reality.