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It’s not only the children that are missing, but also the law

Ammar Shahbazi

Karachi: At 7pm on May 6, six-year-old Faiza* was whisked away from outside her house in Rajput Colony, Mubina Town. Thirteen days later, her decomposed, headless body was found in Block 6 of Gulshan-e-Iqbal.

According to medical reports, Faiza had been raped and then strangled to death. The body was found several days after the murder, by which time it had turned putrid.

She was the youngest child in her family – “the most loved,” says her uncle Ghulam Muhammed.

“We were called in by the police when the body was traced. We couldn’t identify it as it had been too mutilated,” Ghulam said. It was only after Faiza’s mother was called in that they could identify the body. “She recognised the shirt and the shade of nail polish,” he explained.

The victim’s family claims that the police had made no effort for little Faiza’s recovery. “Though we went to the police the day our daughter went missing, it still took them three whole days to register an FIR,” said Ghulam.

Mohammed Ali, the founder of Roshni Helpline, an NGO that works for recovery of missing children, said the police often delay investigating missing children cases. “Still, I don’t blame them, as the root of this problem is that a ‘missing child’ is not a crime in our books, it’s a non-cognisable offence,” he added.

A report published by the Roshni Helpline termed Mobina Town as a “high alert” area, as there were several reports of children being picked up, raped and murdered there. A majority of these children were between the ages of 4 and 10.

Ali explained that if the kidnapped child’s guardian does not nominate anybody in the complaint, the case is not given urgent attention and is only noted in the daily diary. “The first 12 to 24 hours are crucial, especially in cases of young children like Faiza, because the abductor is either in the area, or would try to carry the child away. In both cases, the kidnapper can be traced, like one would trace a stolen car. But this does not happen when a child goes missing,” he elaborated. “There is no law, so the police are not bound to act immediately.”

*Name changed for reasons of privacy

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