Zainab and Farishta deserved better: need to protect children in a brutal society

Children are always the most vulnerable elements on society and need more protection. On Tuesday the body of a 10-year old girl, Farishta, was found from Shahzad Town in Islamabad. Farishta had been raped and then her body thrown in the forest. This is not the first such incident in which a minor girl was raped and left for dead. Last year, seven-year-old Zainab was kidnapped from near her aunt’s house in Kasur and five days later her body was found in a garbage heap.

According to news reports, “The girl’s family which belongs to Mohmand Agency said they had reported her missing to the police on May 15 after she had left the house to get Iftar. The family claims it took the police till May 19 to register an FIR and even then a proper search was not launched. The body of the minor was discovered by locals who then informed the police. The 10-year-old’s body was moved to Poly Clinic for post mortem, however, till now it had not been conducted. To protest against police negligence in the case, the family of the victim protested with her body at Taramari Chowk.”

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) issued a statement that it was “appalled to learn that ten-year-old Farishta, who disappeared from her home on 15 May in Islamabad, was found dead earlier today, allegedly raped and murdered. There is a chilling resemblance to the case of seven-year-old Zainab in Kasur, which points to an increasingly brutal society in which children are abused and discarded at whim. This is one of at least seven cases to have surfaced in recent months, with reports of children as young as two having been raped. Some were left to return home and live with the trauma they had undergone. Others were killed and their bodies similarly dumped, leaving their families to relive their ordeal. The NGO Sahil’s recent report indicates that over 3,800 children were subjected to some form of abuse in 2018 – with 11 percent more cases reported than in 2017. It is critical that stronger, more vigilant mechanisms be enforced to protect young children – and young girls in particular – who are among the most vulnerable members of our society. Both police stations, the hospitals where such cases are examined, the courts and society overall must become more child-friendly and willing to provide the protection and support that both children and their families need in such circumstances. No society can afford to be this callous where its children are concerned.”

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