KARACHI: Students, teachers, rights activists, citizens and artists gathered outside the Karachi Press Club on Thursday to protest against the rape and murder of an eight-year-old child in Kasur, Punjab. ‘We want justice’ and ‘Zainab wants justice’ were the chants of the protesters determined to have their demands heard by both the provincial and federal governments.
The demonstrators held banners questioning how many more Zainabs will have to suffer the same fate. Lawyer and social activist Jibran Nasir said that the abduction, rape, murder and then dumping of the body did not just sadden but horrified the entire nation.
He said that it is a failure of the federal and Punjab governments in providing adequate protection to the children of Pakistan by not only ensuring the implementation of laws but also not educating the masses about the dangers of child abuse through awareness programmes. “Some estimates suggest that in Kasur alone more than 700 such incidents have been reported in the last three years,” he added.
Civil society activists demand release of missing colleague
Nasir demanded that the government of Punjab immediately arrest the culprits and award severe punishments. He also suggested the formation of courts especially for children-related cases for a speedy trial. “The federal and provincial governments should revise the education curriculum and include topics on sexual abuse and preventative measures to empower and protect our children from untoward sexual advances,” he said.
Actress Mahira Khan said that we wish there a time would come when no one will have to come out on the streets demanding justice for any more Zainabs. “It’s high time we need to put this in our syllabus so that all the children get to know about it. The parents also need to be educated regarding sexual abuse,” she said.
Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi President Ahmed Shah lamented that we have become an inhumane society. “People are demanding sex education whereas more than 50% of the population does not even receive formal education,” he said. “Until education is not widespread, such incidents will keep haunting our children,” he added.
Physically-challenged persons hold protest outside Sindh Assembly
A teacher at a private school, Sana Habib, told The Express Tribune that a constant discourse on such sensitive issues needs to be promoted. “We need to educate the people on women and children rights and ensure education to all the citizens in the country,” she added.
Singer Shahzad Roy said that we need to change the social fabric of the country. “We need to create a society where a child who has been abused can talk to their parents and they can take necessary steps to help the child instead of being in denial about it,” he maintained.