A mother of three slit the throats of her own offspring — a six-year-old girl, and four and two-year-old boys — and drowned them in a canal before she tried to commit suicide in Pindi Bhatian, Gujranwala. While she was saved by onlookers, her minor children were not. Zareena allegedly carried out the gruesome act out of frustration from poverty — her disabled husband could not earn for the household.
This incident shows how the state has failed its people and pushed them into a vicious cycle of self-destruction on a number of grounds. The government’s failure to provide for the poor pushes many into depression every passing day. Stories detailing the horrific incidents of parents killing their children keep appearing in the media. But the numbers remain mere statistics, as the government turns a blind eye towards them.
The poor in the county are not only vulnerable to debilitating mental health conditions owing to their lack of understanding or the stigma attached to it, but also because their lack of financial means restricts them from seeking help. But the story of Zareena is not limited to the government’s failure to provide means to the poor or that of facilitating mental health patients, but also to the growing dependency of differently-abled people. Though legal provisions are made to accommodate them in the workforce, many businesses do not follow these guidelines, leaving many differently-abled people fighting for their survival. The 2017 census also allegedly does not account for the actual number of differently-abled people living in the country, which throws off their employment quotas. Meanwhile, for the unemployed ones — like Zareena’s husband — the government does not even provide any financial aid.
It is significant that the government make active efforts to deal with these problems as vigorously as they deal with the menace of extremism, because not all Zareenas will be saved to tell their stories.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2017.
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