On this International Day of the Girl Child, our hearts weigh heavy with the burden of a grim reality. As we commemorate this day, it is impossible not to ponder the distressing question: how much longer will sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) persist in our society? For how much longer will we merely mark these "days" while countless innocent girls continue to suffer? Recent events, such as the Ranipur case, have brought this issue to the forefront, but we must consider the broader context and the need for sustained change.
It is indeed perplexing to witness the alarming increase in reports of violence against women in our society. Women and girls not only endure torment but also face horrific brutality, often leading to their tragic demise.
These gruesome acts leave dismembered remains in various locations, such as empty lots, trash bins, or filthy drains. The families of these victims endure a painful wait for justice, which often remains elusive.
Forced marriages of young girls continue to be disturbingly prevalent, even in regions like Sindh, where legislation exists to combat the practice. The province of Punjab is also witnessing a surge in child marriages, and the situation in KPK and Balochistan remains uncertain. Tragically, many of these young brides pass away mere years after their marriages. Why? Because every year, these young mothers give birth to children, leading to anemia, malnutrition, poverty, social injustices, and a lack of adequate medical facilities, all contributing to their untimely deaths.
To gain a comprehensive understanding of the extent of sexual, physical, and gender-based violence, particularly in impoverished and backward regions of Pakistan, one can reach out to NGOs dedicated to addressing these issues. It is crucial to acknowledge that when such tragic incidents occur, civil society promptly springs into action with unwavering dedication. Simultaneously, social media, television channels, and newspapers spare no effort in disseminating these stories far and wide. Protests and demonstrations follow, yet, afterwards, a silence descends—a silence that seems interminable.
In this modern era, civil society, as well as social, print, and electronic media, have emerged as crucial pillars of support for the oppressed. The underprivileged now view these platforms as robust allies. Without the Ranipur incident coming to the public's attention, would the progress in that case have been possible?
The critical point is that from the beginning to the very end, the plight of the helpless and oppressed should receive unwavering attention. This commitment should come from various quarters—civil society, the media, and even individuals working tirelessly on their own.
Today, on Girl Child Day, let us pledge to take a comprehensive approach to ending oppression and injustice. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the suffering of young girls and women does not go unnoticed. We must stand unwaveringly committed to combating sexual and gender-based violence, taking action, and ensuring that the days of suffering come to an end. It's time for change, and it starts with each one of us.