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The constant beeping and panicked voices become indistinct, as the pleasant cries of a child reflect off bland walls, filling the air with relief like the sun illuminates the sky. The dreams of a new beginning shape themselves into a beautiful reality when a new life breathes on earth. While every new life births a mixture of happiness and pure bliss with it, do we deserve this joy?
We, as a society, welcome our doom when we let our little ones fall prey to the insatiable hunger of predators that roam free. Humanity fails when our children face abuse. Sadly, the perpetrator holds the power to take away their future; to take away our future. The newborn lives succumb not long after they begin. When did we hand this power to the abusers? Why are we ignorant of the headlines that scream of our loss?
“Islamabad: As many as 2,960 major crimes against children were reported in the four provinces in 2020.”
“2016 saw 19,765 cases of child rape being registered in India.”
“The Tears Foundation and the MRC stated 50% of South Africa’s children will be abused before the age of 18.”
Although child abuse remains a recurrent occurrence, we rarely witness action being taken against it. Quoting the example of my own beloved country, the Pakistani parliament took two whole years to pass a law responding to concerns that arose after the brutal murder of the six-year-old, Zainab Ansari. Despite the establishment of “ZARRA” (Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Agency), the statistics from Sahil show that in a single day, an average of 8 children faced abuse in the year 2020.
Years pass by, and the number of reported and unreported cases only continue to increase. Eyes that were yet to see the world, lay closed and hands that were yet to create, remain still. The deafeningly loud silence screams for help, but it seems as though the society has lost its auditory senses. Our authorities cover their eyes and continue to move forth in oblivion and it is only the intervention by trending hashtags and constant protests by social activists which sometimes make a difference. Zainab Ansari’s case is the perfect embodiment of the intense involvement of our authorities in such cases – simply because it was not them who found CCTV footage of the victim’s last movements, but her own family.
Our community has miscarried the responsibility of building a safe world for our children. Their demise is the rise of our destruction, and their death is our downfall. We didn’t deserve their innocence; we couldn’t do them justice. Grievously, the fiend was once our friend. Someone we trusted the child with, someone we knew would not be a threat—sometimes a parent, sometimes a sibling, sometimes a stranger. In our little world, we have failed to weed out the molesters.
However, now is the time that we rise above our oblivion. The acts of abuse against children are not uncommon; they are just not spoken out loud. Imagine the number of cases that go unreported. We need to hear out the screams for help. We need to correct our mistakes. Together, we need to rebuild our nests with twigs of faith, away from all the corvids. Together, we need to build a world where safety isn’t a privilege but a norm.
Yet another story begins with dreams, hopes, and love, but not every tale gets a happy ending. I sincerely apologize to the innumerable children we failed to protect. My heart weeps for each and every one of them. This world wasn’t ready for them. My body aches at the thought that so many of them were forced to leave their story incomplete, but I sincerely hope those after us get the rightful opportunity.