Sarah Inam’s murder with a dumbbell, just about a year after Noor Mukadam’s body was ripped with a dragger, is a further rot of the same chronic wound! Our society is paying a hefty price for neglected parenting, commercialised schooling, no schooling and traumatised childhood of its citizens during their early development years.
Besides condemning the heinous act of the alleged killers, society must also ask: what does it take to make a bad man, especially in the most privileged sections of society? What’s the quality of parenting available to the kids in our country? How trends, traditions, societal pressures and customs in our society transform a child into a disturbed adult leading to a potential offender inside and outside their households?
According to the WHO, nearly 3 in 4 children — or 300 million children — aged 2 to 4 years regularly suffer maltreatment around the globe. What we see in men in our society is the manifestation of the treatment these men have been subjected to as a child — only the manifestation is sometimes exacerbated due to intoxication and the lack of rule of law.
Studies show that more than 78% of prisoners were abused as children.
In Pakistan, with no training for the parents, children face sheer neglect and are subjected to severe corporal punishments and humiliation which result in their disturbed adulthoods.
“Every time I make a mistake, my dad will lock me in the room for the whole night,’’ said Salma, the 25-year-old MBA graduate who still finds it hard to sleep alone in a room as she recalls her childhood traumas. Always dreaming of being locked and feeling suffocated her childhood traumas have qualified her roles as a mother and wife. With no one to go to for help and suffering continuously and in silence, such children grow into emotionally unbalanced adults and try to avenge the very society which failed them as a child.
Another student, 22, finds it hard to have an eye contact with elders. Beaten into a pulp, the boy relives the memories of the torture he endured as a child.
In a conservative, closed and vastly illiterate society like ours, matters take a grave turn when children are treated badly by their very own parents, either because the parents are not qualified enough or are also suffering from depression and anxiety.
It’s time we started taking care of the root causes; mere politically motivated cosmetic antidotes might make us look better on the surface but they will not halt the internal rot and degeneration which has started in our society. Else, the wounds will keep spitting blood out on our faces from time to time.
Pakistan is ranked amongst the lowest countries in terms of child protection and safety. Children of all ages are subjected to mental and physical traumas spanning over the years. According to the UNDP, in 90% of the cases, the tormentors are a close relative or a trusted aid. This is even worse in the case of children with special needs as they are dependent on others for some of their needs and their parents are mostly too occupied to turn to their needs. Hence, they suffer in silence with no help in sight. Such incidents develop into traumas and chronic disorders as the child grows, turning him into a preparator in turn.
The governments in the past have been sensitising the teachers about the harmful impacts of corporal punishment. It’s time that projects for training potential and new parents must start where they can learn how to be better at crafting a child into a valuable citizen of the country. Parenting like any other job and skill needs training.
It’s harder than starting to walk as a child for which we all took help and training! With technology, it just requires willingness. Short interactive video courses in local languages generating certificates can immensely help and should be a must to get the birth certificate of the child. Technology is a friend — use it. Even politically it will serve better than tapping, bugging and chipping the opponents.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2022.
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