LAHORE: Progressive Students Collective (PSC) and members of civil society staged a protest in front of Punjab Assembly on Thursday, condemning the gruesome rape and murder of eight-year-old Zainab in Kasur, who has now become a symbol of child abuse in the country.
The protest was held at Faisal Chowk and saw a predominantly student-led demonstration that called on the government to take concrete steps and bring the sick-minded criminals to justice, not just in Zainab’s case but also in the case of 12 other children who had become a victim of Kasur’s child abuse legacy.
Ammar Ali Jan, a lecturer and social activist speaking to Pakistan Today, stated that such an incident was beyond condemnation. It required the state to launch an action plan that had a long-term effect.
He stated that the incident had shaken the overall conscious of the society and that people from every economic and social class were incensed over what happened to Zainab.
“The civil society has been mobilised, you will see participation from different universities in the protest here and we all demand justice for Zainab”, he stated.
Mohiba Ahmed, a Government College University (GCU) student stated that the students of Pakistan had become active stakeholders of the happenings in the country and seeing their political and social awareness, it was high time that barriers to student politics were removed.
“We want justice for Zainab and condemn the way the aftermath of the incident has been tackled by the provincial administration”, she stated.
According to sources, the participation of students in the protest was being seen in an unfavourable light by many of the participating students’ universities.
A protestor, seeking anonymity, stated that Punjab University administration had “unofficially” shown their reservation and had even threatened students with expulsion, in the event of their participation in the demonstration.
On the occasion, a press release was also issued by the PSC which stated, “Progressive Students Collective strongly condemns this act of extreme brutality and demands strict measures in order to provide justice……. PSC stresses that Zainab’s killing is a mere extension of the systematic paedophilia and abuse of power that has been reigning supreme in Kasur for years”.
Echoing the narrative of systemised child abuse in Kasur, Raza Gillani, another GCU student stated that the problem was not just one such incident but the political backing and systematic working of child abuse groups that had gone on for the past few years.
“These incidents are uncovered every few years and lead to powerful political figures who are affiliated with groups that have a proven history of paedophilia. We want a swift government action that uproots the whole system of sexual violence in the city of Kasur”, he stated.
It was not just the students who were present at the protest, members of civil society and ordinary residents also attended the protest and demanded action from the authorities.
Umm-e-Aiman, a young mother with two toddlers beside her, was also present at the protest and wanted the state as well as the parents to take charge of protecting the children in the country.
She stated, “Parents need to talk to their children. Sex education, differentiating between love and inappropriate touching are issues that parents need to talk to their children about”.
“I am here today, protesting with my children because I want to make a difference, I have no political affiliation, no agenda except a heart that is bleeding at the thought of what befell that poor child and a determination that no such incident should ever take place again”, Umm-e-Aiman added.