SENSITIVE WARNING CONTENT: This blog contains subject matter that may not be suitable for everyone. Please use discretion.
I remember opening up my Instagram like any other time, ready to scroll through the daily feed which generally consists of makeup tutorials, the latest fashion and the odd photo of some paradise holiday getaway. Instead, I was confronted with an unusual post, something that caused a great pain in my heart. A photo of a gorgeous young child, with bright, almost emerald coloured eyes. She looked so sweet and innocent. Yet the caption below depicted a horrific series of events. Zainab. She was a seven year old girl who was kidnapped in a busy bazaar with onlookers not saying a word, raped and dumped in piles of heap in a city in Pakistan. I felt a lump in my throat as my eyes started to well. She was a girl I had never met yet the grief of the heinous crime that had been committed left me in absolute shock and horror.
Since then there have been protests in Pakistan speaking out against such inhumane actions, alongside social media campaigns all aiming to seek justice for Zainab and other victims of child sexual abuse. Although we look to seek justice for Zainab and other little angels like her who have been the victims of sexual abuse, there is so much more we need to be seeking.
This is not only a Pakistani issue. It’s not only a female issue. And nor is it an issue that can be resolved simply by punishing those who have committed this crime. A crime and injustice which has been put forward against humanity in its entirety.
Too often in not only my community, but many others, I come across people who don’t understand consent, respectful relationships, and their rights in a relationship. Time and time again I hear stories of young women being coerced into doing things with their partners simply because their partner expects it from them. As I said before this is not a female problem. This an issue within our community created predominantly due to the lack of open platforms for people to talk about relationships, sex, sexual health and sexual behaviours.
Alongside seeking justice for Zainab, we need to seek to create safe spaces in which our people feel comfortable talking about such topics. Rather than telling our children off when they ask questions, point them in the right direction. Instead of keeping information from them and waiting for the ‘right time’, create open relationships in which they’re able to seek the answers they can’t seem to find. Too often young people in such communities are lead to platforms, such as the porn industry, that misinform, misguide, and translate poorly what positive sexual health and relationships look like. Consequently, giving them distorted ideas of how things should be in a relationship which most often don’t translate identically in to the real world.
I don’t mean to take anything away from the #JusticeForZainab campaign. If anything, the aim of this piece is to add to it by challenging anyone reading this. It’s to urge people to not only better inform themselves but also the people around them. To challenge you to seek proper information and to create a safe space in which you can talk about how to be safe and be well informed alongside the people around you. Sexual health is not something we should be ashamed to talk about and if you truly want justice for Zainab I urge you all to be the person who starts the conversation within your communities.
Zainab was a gorgeous girl, taken too early. I hope you rest in peace, little angel.