It reads like a horror novel. A young woman lured from her hometown halfway across the country to Karachi by the promise of marriage, finds herself imprisoned, tortured and raped before being brutally murdered and unceremoniously buried. It is also a cautionary tale of what kind of predators roam our streets and our cell-phone networks, seeking to lure the innocent into becoming their playthings before being ruthlessly and viciously discarded. The girl befriended her would-be murderer by phone and travelled to Karachi after he proposed. A more tragic tale one cannot think of: a woman seeking to unite with the one she loves and is then betrayed by him. Yet it calls into question why young people feel the need to interact over the phone with strangers to begin with. The case also shows how easy it is for a runaway to disappear from the face of this earth and not be asked about — given that the police stumbled on the death and rape of the girl while interrogating the culprits on arms possession and related charges.
While Pakistan is not, strictly speaking, a segregated society, young men and women fraternising with members of the opposite gender is frowned upon and in some extreme cases, even punished severely. Yet the advent of modern telecommunications technology, at which the young are far more adept than the old, means that adolescents now have more ways of circumventing their parents’ restrictions than ever before. Youthful angst is a global phenomenon but the degree to which parents in our society seek to restrict and control their children is perhaps less than healthy. Instead of seeking to completely eliminate behaviour that they deem immoral, perhaps we as a society would be better off if parents sought to understand their children’s, particularly their daughter’s, needs and provided safe space for them to interact rather than locking them up and forcing them to take drastic measures.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2010.
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