Every day I switch on the TV with my heart in my throat, my muscles tense and this prayer in my head,
“Oh Allah! Please let there be no horrifying news today.”
Day in and day out we hear one horrifying news after another. News about armed robbery, feudal killings and corrupt politicians fill our mornings. And then, the most heart-wrenching of all – news about children being sexually assaulted and often killed with extreme brutality. What is even more terrifying is that such incidents are not rare and isolated; they seem to be gaining momentum and frequency.
- It’s not only ‘stranger danger’ anymore
Everywhere I go these days there is talk about sexual predators, molesters and paedophiles. Our parents used to warn us of ‘stranger danger’ but experts now claim that sexual predators are more often known to the child and his/her family. They say that they often gain the trust of the child and the family by using gifts, threats and/or children’s well-known love for secrets.
As a parent, I have been rocked to my core with these incidents and these facts about child sexual abuse. Day and night, my mind whirls with questions:
Why have our children become so unsafe?
What are we doing wrong?
How did we breed such mentally sick individuals who can target and kill children so brutally?
Is the entire male gender full of perverts?
Should we blame the law and those responsible for reinforcing it?
Should we blame the patriarchal upbringing of our society, feminism or our lack of spirituality?
I’m sure most of you are haunted by these questions as well.
- We live in a hyper-sexualized world
If we really want answers to these questions and hard-core reforms in our society, we need to introspect and be as objective as possible. We need to accept that it’s the sum of many things that have led to this decay in our value system. When we talk about feminism in the context of modernity, are we celebrating our rights or are we merely surrendering to the pervert’s gaze? Are we feeding the perverted mind what it actually craves?
From larger-than-life images on Teen Talwar of beautiful models wrapped only in fabric to young girls dancing sensually to suggestive songs at mehndis to actresses displaying their sensuality – are these really an attempt to emancipate women or a mere surrender to the patriarchy?
Hard questions to ask but there is no denying the fact that we live in a hyper-sexual world. The graphics that surround us have a subliminal affect on our mind – a mind that is not trained to control its animal instincts. And even animals are better than us; after all, animals attack either to prey or to defend themselves.
What harm can a seven, eight or even a 16-year-old bring to a fully-grown man???
- Sahir Lodhi’s showcase of ‘talent’
Recently my Facebook newsfeed was awash with video clips and comments thereon of Sahir Lodhi’s morning show, Aap ka Sahir, on which young (pre-pubescent) girls and boys danced to the beat of Bollywood ‘item numbers’. There were some who praised it, calling it a ‘display of talent’ but most commentators seemed aghast at the blatant sexualization of children, (especially girls) on the show. The mere fact that a young girl is thrusting her pelvis or heaving her (non-existent) chest while the audience gapes unashamedly and applauds puts a big question mark on our society’s value system.
Why is PEMRA sleeping? Why has this show not been banned yet? Why has this segment at least not being taken off air? Do people realize that once such content is online, those visuals can be used in any, I repeat, IN ANY WAY?!
A young child who is unaware of her body is being encouraged to move it in a certain way, all in the name of TALENT? Do we as a society hold no responsibility to reject such vulgarity? Where does our ghairat flee to in such situations? Till when are we going to blindly let this happen in the name of ‘entertainment’ and ‘fun’ and give the perverted minds what they want?
Unfortunately, Sahir Lodhi has argued that his show allows children from less privileged families to showcase their talents and use their skills to support their families in times of financial crisis, if need be. WTH?! Are there no other ways to help families in crisis?
Since Zainab’s case went viral, there has been a lot of talk about teaching our children the importance of their private parts and space and that no one is allowed to violate it. Call it sex-ed or anything you want but experts are emphasizing the need to teach both, boys and girls that they must guard and respect their private space as well as that of others. The abuser doesn’t have to be your domestic help; it can be a friend, an acquaintance, even a very close relation (hard as that is to digest, it is true).
Nobody and I mean NOBODY can be fully trusted when caring for our children and hence, it is imperative for communication to be open and honest between parents and children. Sexual offenders, whether they are eve teasers or rapists, need to be punished by law. Exemplary punishment should be given so no perpetrator (whether he/she is a family member or a stranger) dares to even come close to our children.
Experts claim that sexual crimes are not about sex; they are about power – power over the powerless.
So, why are we giving Sahir Lodhi the power to use our children to promote child sexual abuse?