In wake of Zainab’s heart-wrenching rape and murder in Kasur, the Pakistani community is attempting to unite against the taboo of sexual harassment and rape and bring justice to those who have been subject of this heinous crime.
Celebrities and artists also stepped up to protest against the brutal rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab. They joined protestors at the Karachi Press Club to speak against this and put pressure on the government to find the perpetrator. Among the celebrities Mahira Khan, Shehzad Roy, Hina Bayat, Sanam Saeed and Ayesha Omar were present.
Mahira Khan, while speaking to the media, called upon those in power to act and deliver justice not only to Zainab but all those before her as well. “It is the responsibility of those in power to bring justice, and not just find the man who did this to Zainab, but to all the other cases before that. This is not the first time such horrific acts have happened. We have to act swiftly to punish the guilty and ensure that our children are better protected.”
Mahira stressed on the importance of creating awareness about abuse. “We have to find a long-term solution, which is that we need to talk about abuse, we have to not associate it with shame. We need to tell our children not to remain silent.”
“We need to include that in our school curriculums. Awareness is key. Associating abuse and rape with shame is why countless (attacks) go unheard of. Stop with the shame,” she elaborated adding that she is also willing to give free talks on the subject of child abuse.
Mahira added that films, books and pieces of art highlighting child abuse will be crucial in inducing a change in the attitude of people, helping the society fight the issue of child abuse.
The actress emphasised that it was important to convey the message to abusers that the power lies with us and not them. Mahira’s latest film, Verna, also centered around rape and power play.
At the protest, famous singer and social activist Shehzad Roy also demanded that the culprits behind the rape and murder of Zainab should be given strictest punishment.
“To save the future Zainab’s in Pakistan, better measures should be put in place,” said the musician.
Pakistani Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan were among the celebrities using the hashtag, #JusticeforZainab, which is currently trending on Twitter.
“This has to stop,” tweeted a “heartbroken” Yousafzai, an outspoken campaigner for girls’ rights in her homeland.
“Authorities must take action.”
Heartbroken to hear about Zainab – a 7 year old child abused and brutally killed in Kasur, Pakistan. This has to stop. Gov and the concerned authorities must take action. #JusticeForZainab
— Malala (@Malala) January 10, 2018
Sanam Saeed also called out to find the abuser and punish him in public to set a precedent. She wrote on Twitter, “They say Pakistan’s intelligence service is ranked at number one. Find them catch them jail them castrate them hang them! #JusticeForZainub where are you agents?”
They say Pakistan’s intelligence service is ranked at number one. Find them catch them jail them castrate them hang them! #JusticeForZainub where are you agents ?
— Sanam Saeed (@sanammodysaeed) January 10, 2018
Sexual abuse is on the rise in Pakistan, with more than 4,000 cases reported in 2016, up 10 percent on the previous year, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) says.
Pakistan tightened its legislation to protect children in 2016 — criminalising sexual assault, child pornography, and trafficking for the first time — after a paedophile ring was exposed circulating pornographic videos in Kasur.
Previously, only rape was criminalised.
Mamtaz Gohar — a spokesman for Sahil, which campaigns against child sexual abuse — said not enough has been done to secure justice for an estimated 280 children abused in the case.
“Almost all of the criminals have been released on bail,” he told Reuters.
“The justice system and the police investigation is really skewed in our country.”
Many villagers in Pakistan prefer to use local elders to dispense justice, rather than the often-cumbersome and corrupt formal legal system.
“Ask one institution, they blame the other. The police will blame the judges, the judges will point fingers at the public prosecutor,” Maliha Zia Lari, a human rights lawyer, said, calling for better training of investigators.