Last month, Child Empowerment Association of Pakistan (CEAP) took a significant step in shedding light on perhaps one of the most pressing yet taboo issues existing in Pakistan: child sexual abuse. The organisation released a documentary, In Plain Sight, on the said topic the screening of which took place at The Alhamra Cultural Complex on August 3, 2017.
The documentary has a run-time of eighteen minutes with direction by Tehmina Shahid and screenplay by Rana Adan Abid. It is remarkable in its incorporation of scientific insight and legal information on the topic.
The piece also provides whatever factual data exists in Pakistan regarding child sexual abuse despite the “dark figure of crime” which makes calculating the incidence of the event very difficult. Alarming findings are mentioned, however, such as some studies report one child in every six as likely to being sexually abused before turning eighteen.
The video features psychotherapist Ayesha Iftikhar, victimologist Humaira Masihuddin, linguist Nabiha Meher Shaikh and religious scholar Khalid Zaheer.
In this manner, the documentary provides the legal, theological, linguistic as well as psychological aspect to this horrifying perversion. Most importantly, it involves the experiences of a survivor – narrated by the survivor himself. If none else, this narration – coming directly from someone who has lived through the abuse – will compel the audience to realise the horror of this very pervasive evil and contribute to its eradication.
The video delineates Pakistan’s “rishta culture”, a part of the problem with the country’s social structure that makes victims reluctant to speak up and even more hesitant to go to court.
Child sexual abuse is incredibly unmentionable in Pakistan, the ordeal being associated with honor and shame. The video highlights how many families want to discredit that any abuse happened at all and the rejection victims face.
The documentary is informative and poignant, emphasizing the role of language, providing the Islamic perspective as well as featuring the survivor’s personal narration. In addition to intelligently creating awareness, this short piece presents a solution to the malady, highlighting CEAP’s work and including commentary by founder Tehmina Shahid.
w her organisation and team are introducing and implementing various activities and programs to better equip children and their caregivers to prevent child sexual abuse before it happens and improve security for the children of our country.
In Plain Sight is eighteen minutes of heart-wrenching exposure to an unbelievable horror that lives within our nation. With its haunting images of vulnerable children, narration of the tragedy and the provision of scientific evidence, it succeeds in being one of the very few pieces of Pakistani visual media that throws aside taboo and unabashedly puts forth a blight that we desperately need to counter.