Internal settlements between the powerful and powerless in rural Pakistan are quite problematic for a plethora of reasons, the most important of which is the utilisation of children as assets.
A case that has come to light on Monday, the July 31st emblematises this difficult and ethically unsound discourse. A man handed over his eight-year-old daughter to an old landlord as a mortgage after failing to pay him back Rs100,000 loan in Tando Bago town, 21 kilometres from Badin. The shameful deal surfaced when Soomri Machhi approached Tando Bago police station and protested that her husband, Achar Machhi, had sold off her daughter Nazia to an old landlord, Ali Murad Chandio, in Pathan Water village. The police raided the village to recover the girl and returned her to her mother who accused his husband of having sold the girl for Rs100,000.
Although the young girl was recovered and saved in this instance, it does not exonerate the father or the landlord who committed this heinous crime. Nor an FIR has been lodged neither any arrests have been made until the time of writing. There is nothing more painful than such cases when bought to the limelight and it begs the question of how many such exchanges take place and go unreported every day in this country. There is always a feeling of disbelief and anger that is felt when these stories are learned, since many of us do not like to think that children’s rights could be violated in this day and age. It also makes one wonder at the cruelty of poverty, and whether the hardening of parents’ hearts is due to monetary burden or because of absolute desperation. What needs to be stressed, however, is that this is not a societal behaviour that should be acceptable as recourse.
Selling children should always be criminalised and punishable by law. All involved in the settlement should necessarily be arrested. Pakistani society should be discouraged from trying to settle monetary matters internally in such a manner, and the sale of children must be particularly prohibited.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2017.