How To Report Child Abuse And Save The Victim

How To Report Child Abuse And Save The Victim
Last Wednesday had marked an end to the threshold of my tolerance against oppression. For the past few days, I had been witnessing episodes of aggression and violence on a young maid by the owner of the house right next to mine. I was appalled the first time I heard it, and my brother told me he had seen her and that she was less than eight years of age.

It did not make sense to me as to how a seven-year-old could be of any house-help so I conveniently refused to believe it. He expressed his distress to me that it was not the first time she was being thrashed, he had witnessed such an act on her a number of times. This made me concerned.

I decided to meet the kid so as to provide support and encourage her while I sought something. After trying numerous times to meet her and failing, on Wednesday, I heard the owner thrashing her violently once again and also, threatening her to kill. Previously, I did not know that child labor is a crime in Pakistan because it is quite common and my sensibilities did not allow me to believe that a crime would be normalized to such an extent where every other person would be doing it comfortably and openly.

This time, I had been following the Zohra Shah Murder case trend on social media so I was aware that not only physical abuse but keeping such a young maid was also a crime to be reported. While he threatened to kill her, I recorded and posted my query as to whom to complain to on Twitter, tagging few police personals active on the website.

Within minutes, people started re-tweeting my post and I ended up getting a message from Imaan Mazari, the daughter of the Head of Ministry of Human Rights, Shireen Mazari. Not only did she provide me with her e-mail ID but also her personal Whatsapp number where I sent her the details of the crime. Other than her, numerous female police officers contacted me and provided their personal contact numbers. Imaan assured me that my details will remain confidential.

Within a few hours, the police came and picked the guy along with the kid. I heard him retail to the police that the maid was indeed, a seven-year-old. A mere seven years old. The Police officers told me how this case was on priority and the ministry was in charge of it personally and directly. The seriousness and urgency for this in the attitude of the policemen was admirable. They told me they would wait the entire night outside the culprit’s house if they had to.

Imaan not only aided on priority but also provided me with emotional support as I was anxious about all that I was going through. I was ought to since I had been a witness to his wrath on the girl. Anyone who witnesses abuse is bound to be petrified of the abuser, but more than fear, I was anxious due to the magnitude of it since at the time of reporting, my survival instinct for the girl had taken over the concern that the neighbor may as well go to jail. Many people told me how I could have warned him first and if he didn’t comply, only then, complain to the police. I could not take such a chance since I had seen enough news stories of child maids being tortured in the basements and chimneys to allow that. He would have been cautious of me as to keep me in the dark about the continuation of abuse on her and may as well end up killing her one day in hiding. Being a practicing psychotherapy student, I have done enough research to know that children do not need physical wounds to die, emotional and psychological wounds and neglect are enough to kill them therefore, taking such a chance out of courtesy to the neighbour was out of the question. 

The next morning I woke up to an overwhelming response of people showering me with words of support, encouragement, and praise. Seeing that a crime had been reported and police had taken action, a bunch of journalists contacted me. Their direct question to me was as to where had this happened and what the station number the police had taken him to was. Although I am a media-person myself and have done enough reporting to know the agenda, this still took me aback. I refused to share information about the culprit.

My agenda was clear, I wanted to spread awareness about the cause as to why and how to do this, educate people dealing with their concern, and who to contact in case of any acts of human rights violations were taking place. But these journalists just appear to be interested in information of the culprit more so than in what I had to impact. I declined their offers to get featured in a cover story since in no way was I ever going to defame his family, telling people about his whereabouts. My purpose was to save the girl; there had been nothing personal with the man. I also had to tell the same thing to the police that I didn’t want any scintillating story about him going viral with maybe a picture of him in handcuffs when they approached me telling me about a journalist who wanted to feature me.

Amid my horrendous experience with journalists, I was contacted by Zarrar Khorho. Exhausted of turning the media down, I told him how I was not interested in giving him any details but to my surprise, he never wanted any and to my greater surprise, here was a journalist who was actually into spreading awareness as to why and how to report this crime and not into the sensationalism of contemporary journalism. I talked to him a number of times before the show, every time I asked him to cut out on details, and every time he ascended to what I was comfortable sharing. Along with that, he gave me suggestions as to how I could go about retelling- eradicating maximum information and instructed his fellow panelists not to ask any investigative questions.

With his support and kind attitude, I was introduced on the show. This experience was opposed to all the other talk-show instances I had seen on television. He asked a simple question as to why and how I did what I did while introducing me, I answered his question in a monologue of six to seven minutes while absolutely no one out of the three panelists interrupted me or poked me to get anything out or make a hue about something I had said. This was surreal because when I said something they did acknowledge it but did not violate any of my boundaries. After this was over, I watched the episode on the internet and although I had gone a little over time, they had not edited a single word I had uttered.

Adding to what I said in the interview, I want to address people who have someone around them who may be abusing another being or themselves. You will have second thoughts, even concerns for the abuser as to if (s)he really deserves this or even urges of giving him/her benefit of the doubt, he could appear to you a nice person having ‘just’ anger issues so, catch yourself making excuses to justify such behaviors. You will have these thoughts more so if s(he) is abusing you because humans are protective of their abusers but believe me by reporting them to the law you will not only be saving the life of the victim but of the abuser and his/her family as well. If I had not reported this person, he may have ended up killing the little girl. That would mean that he would have either got sentenced to death or life imprisonment.

By reporting timely, you save this abuser to being sentenced to death and his family from that distress. In such cases, abuse is normalized and de-sensitized by the family and children of the abuser.

They grow up in such an environment where abuse, violence, aggression is normal, gets them to get their way, works for them and they continue doing it to other people because that is the way they have ever known. So you not only help save the victim, the abuser, his family but also the people their kids will abuse in their future and their families. It’s a loop that gets multiplied and forms an abusive and criminal society. 

Do not normalize and de-sensitize yourself to abuse. Be the one to step up, use your voice, and break the pattern. Be the change, end human rights violations.