We must be honest with our children, our families, ourselves and with society. The fact of matter is that what happened with Zainab is not a rare occurrence in our society; such inhumane acts happen with dozens of children across Pakistan on a daily basis. Even after the uproar of Zainab’s case, a couple of other incidents were reported including that of Asma,the little angel who was tortured and brutally killed after an alleged assault in Mardan, KPK. With due respect, what we are witnessing in the media and on an authoritarian level is just the conventional formality of weeping, which is now our national habit to do after every tragedy. What we are witnessing is nothing more than reactions full of emotions that although good for awareness, will achieve nothing more than temporary solutions to brush the issue under the carpet. The stereotyping continued in these cases as well as the committee that was formed which like hundreds of other committees, gave unrealistic recommendations that will be incompetent in bringing the culprits to justice. Instead of this excessively emotional reactionary approach we as a whole society must adopt a proactive approach. What we are doing is that we are just addressing the cases, not the causes of this curse which is not an outcome of a few days,but took years to pave its way in the society.
The first factor which adds fuel to this is the sexual exploitation in the media. It’s a harsh reality that in the name of feminism and women empowerment, the media is objectifying women. One may disagree, but this is a fact that media uses women as objects to further the capitalist workings. Think about it. What is the purpose of women dancing in a tractor adfor its endorsement? Similarly, on a number of occasions we witness media objectifying women as commodities. Is it not true that item songs in movies are used for marketing purposes? Even item songs are released before the movie as a trailer to attract the audience.
The second factor is the ongoing cultural, social and moral evolution in our society. Pakistani society was a religious eastern society with own customs, moral values, taboos and norms. But now the society is stuck between this on going transformation from religious orthodox eastern society to a liberal westernized society. When a society is in the process of cultural, social or moral transformation, there are certain hurdles which affect the society because during the process most of the segments of society get stuck in air with no moral, cultural, social grounds this is the case with us. Many segments of society are in a no man’s land. They are neither liberal nor religious nor eastern nor western and so they don’t possess any customs, norms or traditions. These are mostly trend followers, mentality disturbed and those affected by social and economic injustices. People belonging to this segment can be religious or liberal, apparently, but they are neither religious nor liberal, because such people are just following the trend of their specific surrounding.
The third factor is that of a defective justice system in Pakistan. We have some laws regarding such issues, but the problem is with the implementation of those laws. Even if these laws are implemented, we witness courts failing to bring culprits to justice. There are a number of reasons for that including improper investigation, lack of witness protection and lack of forensic science units. Whatever the reasons are, the point is that this low conviction rate directly or indirectly motivates others to commit crimes, because they are pretty certain about getting away with it. Apart from that we must be clear with our approach that some crimes are so heinous and inherently wrong that they demand strict penalties even up to a death sentence. Abolishing of death penalty in such crimes is another factor. We witness that the countries with death penalties have lesser crime rates than those with no death penalty.
The fourth factor is our national attitude of accepting injustice and silence on any negative behavior in our society. In most of the cases, family pressure, insecurity, fear of violence force victims to remain silent in the case of any negative behavior from harassment to bribery to favoritism, due to which such negativity in society is dramatically increasing. As mentioned above, we as a society look for temporarily solutions and this is the case here as well. But the problem is that our few moments of silence advocate such behaviors and help them grow in society. We can only overcome these problem by raising out voice against them. These behaviors are the first step towards acts of crime, if the whole society tries to discourage as an initial stage then we will definitely be able to add some good to the cause. Similarly, other factors need to be addressed by the whole society to deal with this curse, otherwise we can wait to weep upon similar incidents.