February, 2018

Women Should Matter

By Seema Jaffer, CEO, Bond Advertising

Women are woefully underrepresented in the corporate workplace globally and even more so in Pakistan. As women move up the corporate ladder the disparity becomes more evident.

There are inherent biases towards the advancement of women in the corporate sector. These start from in-built attitudes where women are stereotyped in traditional roles as wives and mothers with little room for building careers.

Misplaced Frenzy

When the child molestation and murder issue arose from the city of Kasur, Pakistani media simply went after the story in a kind of frenzy and, in those days, there seemed to be nothing else of interest on the TV channels and in the print media except how the little girl Zainab was kidnapped and where her body was located a few days later. The incident created a huge public reaction and the people rose to protest in a very ferocious manner against the crime and the careless attitude of the police. The media was again on hand to cover all that happened, right from street protests to expressions of grief on TV channels in discussions, interviews and beepers. It seemed that such a crime had occurred for the first time in Pakistan.

True that the Zainab incident was gruesome and called for expression of mass anger and a massive public expression of grief. But was it the only one? Had similar incidences not occurred before? Have atrocities not continued to be committed against all sections of society over the years and continue to be committed? In Kasur alone, several other similar incidents are reported to have occurred during 2017. It is a pity though that no one has taken any notice of these incidents and the culprits go unpunished because they have not been pursued the way the perpetrator of the crime in the Zainab case was hunted down and is said to have been finally nailed. The other cases that were reported were also from Kasur. What about the rest of Pakistan? Is everything hunky dory in the country? Does it not fall upon the law enforcement authorities all over the country to mount investigations into the prevailing crime situation in their respective regions and identify crimes, whether of a similar nature or otherwise?

At the time the kidnapping and killing of Zainab was being reported, another small girl who was similarly kidnapped and murdered, was Asma in Mardan. After the national frenzy about Zainab died down and the fact that her killer was nabbed, the media began to focus on the Mardan child. Where was all this leading to? It was obvious that the police and other investigating authorities were treating the case as routine but was some kind of a national policy being formulated to prevent future incidents? There was no evidence of the provincial authorities getting together and chalking out a strategy that would deter such crimes in the long run. The federal government also did not seem to be bothered much and was not seen to be leading the way and putting together a national strategy to deal with the spread of such criminal activities across the country.

The Punjab government needs to be commended for putting together a team that dealt with the Kasur incident in a systematic manner and conducted a forensic investigation and other behind-the-scenes investigations that led to the arrest of the criminal. There was no evidence, however, that similar investigations had been initiated against the other cases occurring in Kasur or in other cities across the land. It was also pathetic to see that the Punjab government took uncalled for political advantage from its success in cracking open the Zainab case and went far enough when the Punjab Chief Minister addressed a press conference to announce his government’s success and openly applauded the investigation agencies that solved the mystery. The pertinent question was that had the Chief Minister and his team also reprimanded the investigation team when they failed to solve other similar crimes?

Perhaps, it is a sad reflection on the state of affairs that despite the pits that the country has sunken into, while it is the duty of the government and its agencies to investigate and solve crimes, what it ends up doing is thumping backs of those who solve a crime while those who don’t are never taken to task. No attention is paid to the thousands of crimes that go unreported or are reported but continue to beg for action because the responsible people never get to the bottom or are simply not bothered.

The media also needs to play a more responsible role in this respect. TV channels climb over each other to comprehensively report such incidents and join the race to approach the story from different angles to increase their ratings. Those who make it their business to discuss and comment on the crime devote a lot of time in undertaking discussions on TV. But it all passes after the initial frenzy is over and the social fabric continues to deteriorate because no one is really bothered and the criminals in society carry on regardless.



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