Imagine a 10-year-old girl walking in the relative calm of her surroundings. Imagine she is abducted by known or unknown assailants and taken to a dark and cold place. Imagine she is all alone, scared, helpless and powerless against those ruffians. Imagine her little mind can’t fathom what is about to happen to her. Imagine she innocently calls out to those thugs, pleads with them to let her go. Imagine what must have gone through her mind when those devils have their way with her. Imagine, even during that traumatic experience, she calls out for her parents up until the last breath of life is squeezed out of her.
Now imagine: she is your daughter. At this juncture, if you are not teary-eyed, if you have no anger within, if you haven’t gotten up and verified the safety of your own daughter, then check your pulse, you may be dead.
In January 2018, the rape and murder of Zainab-a seven-year-old girl from the Punjab city of Kasur-sparked anger and numerous protests across Pakistan. For an Islamic republic, the irony of that episode was threefold. One, that tragic incident happened when Zainab’s parents were on a religious pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. Two, relatives became aware of Zainab’s disappearance only when she failed to show up for her Quran lesson. Three, the perpetrator was a man who used to participate in religious gatherings.
Four days after Zainab went missing, her body was found on a trash heap in the city. One of the main reasons her killer got arrested, even after the severely criticised inaction of the police, was because Zainab’s father sought to publicise his daughter’s death, spreading awareness with a photo of her that went viral on social media. Two weeks later, DNA evidence led police to the rapist who, subsequently, admitted to raping eight boys and girls, and to killing six of them. He was prescribed four death sentences, and then summarily executed.
The urgent need of the hour is to ensure that a policy of equality permeates through government and society with relevant strategies to execute that vision