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The horrific sexual assault of a ten-year-old minor by a seminary cleric in Mansehra is once again a reminder that child abuse is still prevalent in our society. Enough has been said about the sickening issue plaguing our society and now the authorities need to be called out.
Child abuse has long been taboo in our society but incidents such as the Zainab murder and Chunian case made them more prominent and changed our perceptions. The accused in both cases were sentenced to death. One pedophile has been executed but yet there has been no let-up in such incidents. Punishment cannot be a deterrence in the absence of policy which shows the writ of the state.
Disappointingly the esteemed Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari has not made any statement on the incident or taken any action. There has been no coherent policy by the federal ministry on tackling pedophilia or other forms of sexual abuse. The Zainab Alert bill- in which missing children are to be reported generating an automatic alert- has only passed through a sub-committee and still has to be introduced into parliament.
Early morning Mazari responded to a tweet by Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau urging him to condemn the human rights violations in India-occupied Kashmir and the ethnic cleansing of Muslims there. The Canadian prime minister was speaking about anti-semitism and hate after a rabbi who was attacked in New York. It seems that our moral compass on human rights violations is just confined to the happenings in India.
The media has not questioned Mazari on her ministry’s performance or the dismal human rights record. She seemed muddled when interviewed by a foreign journalist on contentious issues such as the covert support for terror groups and enforced disappearances. The minister was called out for her hypocrisy on the silence for Uighur Muslims in China while condemning the atrocities in Kashmir.
The human rights ministry is a vital department tasked with developing Pakistan into a country where every citizen lives in equality with dignity and freedom. Its importance cannot be undermined and the esteemed minister should make the ministry more active on tackling the human rights violations within our own country.
We need to set our house in order before we can point fingers at the happenings at our neighbours or elsewhere. It was disappointing that the international human rights day passed away without any event. The esteemed minister should awaken from her deep slumber and bring more robust and active policies particularly on child abuse and sexual assault.