Earlier this month, the landmark Zainab Alert bill was passed by the National Assembly for missing children and minor victims of sexual abuse. The bill was termed a huge success by Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari but there has been no progress on action ever since.
Civil society organisations have not raised a strong stance on the implementation of the law. The other pressure group remains the showbiz industry as celebrities can use their star power to make an impact. Popular actress Mahira Khan has asked the human rights minister for an update on the policy on social media to provoke authorities to take action against the rising number of child abuse cases in the country.
Mahira has been vocal about the matter since last year when she asked the politician to “make an example of these monsters.” The demand follows another tragic incident as a seven-year-old girl was raped and killed in Nowshera. There has not been enough outrage as was in Zainab’s case, nor have local authorities taken any significant action.
The human rights minister had presented the Zainab Alert Bill in the Senate earlier this year. The legislation stipulates a maximum sentence of life imprisonment with a fine of 1 million rupees. A helpline will be established and an alert will be activated in case a child goes missing. The bill also proposed action against the slack attitude of police officials. However, the law has not yet been implemented nationwide and is only applicable within the federal capital.
Celebrities have immense power and influence to make an impact on social issues. Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio is taking action on climate change, Emma Watson on feminism, and Angelina Jolie on humanitarian issues. Actress Jane Fonda protested against the Vietnam War and at 82 years of age was recently arrested for protesting against fossil fuel use. Singer Bono and others have raised millions for famine victims in Africa. These celebrities are fighting for a cause as they have the power to change the world for the better.
As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility, and for better or worse, celebrities have the unique opportunity to have a big impact on society. Many have been outspoken advocates for vulnerable people and campaigned for phenomenal causes. There are thousands of celebrities on social media with millions of followers. These celebrities are the perfect vehicle to bring the change that we need. Pakistani celebrities should take a stand on social issues which unite us, similar to Mahira Khan, and pressurise the human rights ministry to implement Zainab Alert Bill in letter and spirit.