As if we already do not have enough to mourn in this country, the dark spectre of sexual violence still looms large. The most recent act of brutality perpetrated against a female is even more savage because the victim was a minor — just 11 years old. The incident took place in Islamabad where the child was gang-raped and burnt to death, her little body dumped in a ditch. That the crime was perpetrated against a little child is enough to make one see red. However, this is not the first such case. Just last month, a nine-year-old girl was kidnapped and also gang-raped, left in critical condition by the monsters that violated her. These cases symbolise truly the death of innocence in this country. The rape of the nine-year-old was reported and never followed up and now we have the rape and murder of an 11-year-old on our hands. No doubt feeling the moral pressure, the Supreme Court (SC) has taken suo motu notice of the incident. Whilst one is glad that someone, somewhere decided to take up this matter, one cannot help but wonder at the inadequacy of the current dispensation in preventing these crimes.
Whilst there is no doubt that the SC had its best intentions at heart, where acts of such a criminal nature are concerned it might not be such a wise idea to cut out all the tiers of our criminal justice and law enforcement system with one notice. The SC is doing what no one else has bothered to do — bring some sort of retribution to the perpetrators — but what in actuality needs to be done is the strengthening of the system that captures and brings to book rapists and the like for it is impossible for the SC to take notice of every rape that occurs here. It is vital that the police and law enforcement agencies take this crime seriously and act in a timely and effective manner when such heinous acts occur. The SC’s notices short circuit this process and this will result in further incompetence and laziness by those actually responsible for catching rapists. Arrests are never made and women are treated as though they are somehow responsible for these crimes. It is this attitude that needs to change. The fact that rapists are never caught and women are stigmatised must be overcome. The fact that rape is not looked at as a crime has fuelled the patriarchal mindset that sees women and little girls as no better than sexual fodder, and this too needs to change. We live in a society that is moving towards a draconian form of conservatism where men and women hardly ever interact, increasing the frustration in this society. Whether this is leading to more rapes is not certain, but it does engender unhealthy attitudes amongst men. Society needs to change the psychology with which it views women, men and women, and the relationship between them. Even innocent little children are not safe.