by Nizar Ahmad
I believe “ignorance creates disabilities” and this has been proven by the so-called vibrant society, i.e. Gilgit-Baltistan, where, ironically, education and community development is considered as to be main pillars. We claim to be the custodians of honor and respect but two back to back recent incidents of Hasnain and Sanaullah has failed our claim. These incidents, grave as they are, give us an opportunity to rethink and reshape our social structure so that no other Hasnian will born and no other Sanaullah will be killed.
Hard and challenging environment and short history of Education never let people to understand the complexities of social structure. They failed to preserve it in a way that stability will prevail throughout the society only then the aim of education and community development can be achieved.
Gilgit-Baltistan, being a remote area of North of Pakistan, has harsh and difficult geography which disables us to fetch actual data. However, some statistics are available, according to which GB has 52% of literacy rate which means almost half of its population is illiterate. Similarly, half of children’s are out of schools. Having these statistics we can expect lot of social evils in society i-e Drug abuse, corruption, unemployment, criminal activities, sexual harassment etc. And, definitely, almost all of these crimes are present in our society, to a large or lesser extent.
An irony is that we always tend to openly condemn each and every evil, except that of sexual harassment. Over a period of time, discussing sexual harrassment, that too of male children or youth, has developed into some kind a taboo. Furthermore, this ignorance has affected each and every corner of GB. There are many cases where people buried the fact just to save their pride and dignity, in turn encouraging sexual predators.
The recent murder of 8 year old child in Gilgit and killing of young boy in Rawalpindi two days ago raised lots of questions about the role of both policy makers and civil society. Though everyone is condemning both incidents but no one is ready to take it as failure of society to protect our future.
Both incidents indicate an alarming situation that there is lot more than what we see. There is more around us, waiting to unfold. Both incidents have given us a chance to evaluate ourselves as a society and now it’s right time for parents and every member of society to be conscious about every child. There is an urgent need to take some serious action and provide a visionary policy for better transformation of social norms which can only be possible when civil society of GB will raise their voices and help Govt. of GB to implement those policies to get a fruitful result. Following are best possible options to prevent such incidents.
- There is urgent need of developing an institution for Child protection primarily meant to educate young kids of safety measures, conduct awareness sessions for parents, and to bridge the gap between parents and child
- Civil society should actively participate and educate society of their basic rights.
- Government should provide different platforms for youth to get involved in healthy activities such as different games, training, cultural festivals and youth development sessions.
- Make Safety techniques part of syllabus at primary level.
- Unsupervised media should be control by Govt. to minimize source of triggering sexual offenses.
- Gilgit-Baltistan assembly should pass new law about Child protection and direct all relevant institutions to enforce that law effectively.
In conclusion, I would like to tell everyone from Gilgit-Baltistan that time has come to clean up our society. All of us should take part in this process, considering it our collective responsibility. Only then we will raise our society by giving a bright and secure future to our next generation.