Common man battling hard to make both ends meet
With both her arms raised above to balance the huge pile of dry fuel wood (dead branches of trees) placed uneasily on head, the wrinkle-faced elderly woman clad in black nomadic frock bravely walked up the slope of the deserted Hayatabad graveyard to negotiate the road bend that separated the neglected Phase-1 from the well-developed Phase-7. A few kilometres to the north, the teenage tribal girl that sought alms from wealthy shoppers outside the GB (Ghulam Bahadar) Plaza in the sprawling Karkhano Markets counted the coins on her palm to see if these could ensure her a square meal by the familiar ‘tandoor’ located to the south of the discarded railway track.
Many ‘people-friendly’ rulers have come and many ‘people-friendly’ rulers have gone but the down-trodden sections of society continue to wait for a better, brighter dawn. The white-collared bread-winners in most families find it hard to make both ends meet. Disorienting inflation and soaring prices of essential goods have driven the general public to the wall. Days in and days out, the credible NGOs dish out scaring results of modest surveys showing how many more people have joined the ranks of those slipping down the poverty line every year.

Child abuse is a curse the world over. It is as old as man himself. Outrage against it is understandable. Pakistan does not lag behind any other country in condemning it. According to law of the land, the punishment for pedophiles is life imprisonment or death, depending on nature of the crime. Last week there was a heated debate on it among MNAs on floor of the National Assembly. Some of the members said that those convicted of child abuse should be hanged – not anonymously by the prison hangman in the pre-dawn silence but – in full view of the public out in the bustling city square. Passions ran high. Human rights activists raised their voice against public hanging. They said this would amount to terrorising the civil society. In-between the two extremes, there was a section of the enlightened middle class, which said the matter deserved a rational approach.
In this regard, a group of qualified people got together in a private hospital and held a lively seminar on the issue.
The group comprised consultant psychiatrists and clinical psychologists. The general consensus among speakers was that like other ailments it was a disease, which should be treated by capable doctors. By hanging a convict privately or publically, the law physically eliminates a diseased individual but it neither ends the crime nor reforms the criminal. Instead of allowing a convicted pedophile to languish in prison, he should be treated mentally. Psychologists should hold prolonged sessions of counselling with such jail inmates.
The seminar speakers said that on international level the ratio of molestation and abuse of the female child was 19.7 per cent while in case of the male child it stood at 9.7 per cent. They said that 51 to 79 per cent of the victims faced psychological problems. For example, some of them regressed to thumb-sucking and bed-wetting while others started showing abnormal signs like cruelty to animals. The speakers said that some child abusers did not resort to physical violence. However, many others became violent and harmed the victims by inflicting injuries on them. The after-effects of violence were very damaging to their overall personality. Molestation and abuse created in them a sense of shame due to which they cut themselves from the mainstream and thus became recluse or social outcasts.
The speakers were of the unanimous opinion that sexual abuse of children could lead to various syndromes like the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, school withdrawal, social stigma and regressed behaviour. They said that such an experience could damage their brain leading to crime, suicide, conduct disorder, sleep disturbance, eating disorder, low self-esteem, risky behaviour and social alienation.
The consultant psychiatrists who spoke on the occasion included Dr Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Dr Ghazzan Khan and Dr Mir Alam. Similarly, the clinical psychologists who expressed their views included Miss Rainaz, Miss Sumiyaa Arif and Islam Badshah.