The brutal rape and murder of seven year Zainab has brought forth an issue which deeply affects the society at large. Her death was not an individual event, something that takes place once in a while. Child sexual abuse is very rampant in Pakistan. It might not be talked about, it might not be reported by mainstream media but it still exists. The outrage at this particular event has, however, managed to get the attention of the authorities and has also prompted the media industry to cover such incidents. Shortly after, we witnessed reports of abuse pouring in from all parts of the country. The magnitude of the problem may differ from province to province but the problem still exists.
Three cases of rape and murder of minor were reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) on Monday - highlighting that the problem exists in KP as well. Minors selling their bodies for a little money on the streets of Quetta is no secret either. It is a common occurrence and shame prevents people from talking about it or taking action for that matter.
The best strategy would be for all provinces to recognise the problem as endemic and take executive actions along the lines taken by the Punjab government. There is no doubt about the fact that the initial response of the Punjab government was to deflect responsibility in Zainab’s case and yes, there is no denying that the government mishandled the Kasur sexual abuse scandal that came to the forefront four years ago but this time, but they have actually made a concentrated effort to catch the culprit in the Zainab case. All the intelligence agencies and governmental bodies were involved to solve the crime. This included the local police body, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and the local intelligence network. Prompt action resulted in catching the culprit. On the other hand, police are still trying to catch the culprit in Asma’s case; who was raped and murdered in Mardan in KP.
It does not matter which province the incident took place, what matters is that we have a nationwide policy to counter such crimes and have a network to solve cases and get justice for the families.