In a shocking display of cruelty, an elderly landlord tied a nine-year-old boy to a donkey and allowed the beast to drag him through farmland in the Abbottabad village of Kangar Mera. After straying onto the landlord’s property the animal was promptly caught and tethered but when the boy asked if he could have his family’s donkey back he found himself on the receiving end. If this was an attempt to teach the boy a lesson it went horribly wrong because the boy sustained fatal head injuries following the episode. If this was intended as a joke, it was in very poor taste because the landlord took things right over the edge. Not once did he or his henchmen stop to think about the consequences. Unfortunately for the boy and his family there was no intervention by other villagers. The life of an innocent child was snuffed out thus. Overcome by anger and grief, the villagers staged noisy protests over the child’s death.
The police have taken the landlord into custody and will present him before a magistrate soon. Such cases are well documented and serve to highlight the widespread acts of violence committed against children in our country. These acts of cruelty show that we have collectively failed our children, leaving them vulnerable to all forms of violence and abuse.
The concept of criminal negligence in the treatment of children is as broad as it is widespread. As a first step, however, we need to familiarise more people with what constitutes mistreatment and abuse of children. There are several types of conduct that grossly deviate from reasonable standards of an ordinary person or some form of indifference for the safety of a child. It is also difficult to prosecute those who are responsible for child deaths, both in Pakistan and in more developed societies with far more effective criminal justice systems than ours.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2017.
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