Redefining Women’s Security

By: Suman Abbasi

The recent case of a minor Dua Zehra is a manifestation of incapacitation in the institutes of this state to protect the sanctity of the fair sex. This case points toward many things, but the glaring one is that the very institutions that are meant to shield women against high-handedness of feudality, clergy conservativeness, and ineptness of law enforcement agencies are the very ones occupying front seats in dereliction of their duties.

The greater concern arises regarding the judicial mandate and the humanist approach when it comes to saving a minor. The Judgement in this case is extraordinarily intricate. To start out with the Honorable Divisional Bench has completely unnoticed installed jurisprudence of Sindh High Court in such topics. It nullifies our jurisprudence beneath Criminal regulations and Family Law with regard to the rights of Minors and Parents.  Wherever it’s far demonstrated that whenever the girl is below eighteen she is given two alternatives i.e. Whether or not to live with Parents or sent to Shelter Home and if the Child is sent to Shelter Home, she is under no circumstances allowed to have live-in situation with her alleged husband and alleged in-laws who orchestrated the crime of Child Marriage. The Court additionally did not recognize that there is a precedent set where Honorable SHC has already held that in presence of NADRA documents, they may to be prioritized over any medical record as an ossification file offers an estimate ranging from one to two years rather than particular date. The Court additionally did not comprehend that to decide age a scientific board of senior doctors is shaped which became now not achieved in this example. As complete what our courts are continuously failing to understand that a minor girl below sixteen years of age can be enticed far from guardianship of her mother and father and that is kidnapping underneath section 361 PPC. Another issue Courts are failing to comprehend are the current penal laws brought in 2016 for protection of Children where seducing a child is against the law beneath 292A PPC. If seducing a minor is a crime then how can the ensuing marriage be justified. The Courts have also turned blind eye to the amendment made to Hudood Laws via the Women’s Protection Act 2006. Under Hudood Laws there is existed concept of a thirteen year old female getting married and resulting in any marital relation not being considered as rape. However after 2006 Women’s Protection Act no such exception exist and any sexual activity with a girl under sixteen is strict liability rape. This judgment will not do our children any good, if anything it has made the jurisprudence extra confusing and our children greater prone to predators.

The legal status of minor remains illegitimate, which nullifies her Nikkah altogether. Which by the way, the role of Nikkah Khwans should not be ignored and addressed as: them further trapping young girls in marriages by unilaterally cross out the right to divorce from the Nikkahnama, thus eliminating their ability to divorce their husband except through a Khula ordered by a court. And our established principle and pre-dominated interpretation of Muslim Personal Law in the country once the girl reach puberty she is deemed to be competent to marry.

Even if the minor do ‘consent’, willfully, the fact is that a child should not be able to consent to marriage.

Children can be influenced, children can be manipulated, and children can be made to commit to decisions that will ruin their lives later on. We need law that overrides this consent.

The recent parading interview is cherry on top, it is somewhat promoting her marriage, by indirectly supporting potential trafficking case without any moral or journalistic responsibility that the issue is still not decided by the courts. The interview was channelized over the petty love-sick subject without realizing how painful it could be for child’s parents. And how damaging it is for the case. Is the minor a celebrity? Why was that interview sponsored? Anything is just for ratings even at the expanse of morals and lives involved.

How come some YouTubers have had access to meet minor all this while? But her parents were denied. This interview seem scripted. From child watching on right side continuously to her attire; red dress and red makeup to make her look full-grown woman when she is barely a child.

Dua Zehra’s case is so chilling, you can see the pieces of evidence are not adding up, the body language in her recent “interview” doesn’t add up, and even the story doesn’t add up, there are blatant proofs being given by the family. Everyone knows there are greater hands at play here. Only God knows when another case would come into the limelight.

Upholding Women security has remained a far greater challenge than enacting laws in Pakistan. Laws exist those protect sacrosanctity of women in this country. Protecting a minor from marriage is in itself a declaration of such commitment. However, the difference in the provincial marriage laws prohibits this very idea of women security. The case primarily pertains to Sindh and Punjab, but the smothering was felt at highest judicial levels. One Honorable judge of SHC ordered to sack the sitting Inspector General of Police – IGP – over ineptness to handle the matter, which is commendable. While the other Honorable Judge disposes of the case summarily without letting the child meeting her parents. The cries of parents still echo in the hallways of courtrooms. The biggest question yet again perpetuates, who doesn`t know if she was a minor or not, and whether a minor is capable of marrying or not? Doesn`t it accentuate the very idea of judicial ineptness in this country too? Again, the women, or girl security in the country is at the mercy of men who themselves, despite being in position to make a difference, follow laws inhumanely just to avoid contempt.

It also draws us to contemplate another institution meant to protect basic law and order. It is none other than Police. Punjab police, indeed is renowned for its exceptional performance. Someone remarked if Punjab Police wills it finds people from purgatory. If it is the case, then why the investigation did not lead to a strong case of forced marriage, blackmail, ransom, as the news regarding it surfaced too, and or any other thread of information that could help the poor soul. Who is not aware blackmailing is the easiest tool in manipulating a young lass of fourteen year old. It is perhaps a case of human trafficking where she was profoundly threatened in multiple ways, or just brainwashing which eventually exposed institutional incapacity to emancipate a minor. Whatever it was or is, the biggest truth of weakness of institutions to protect women has surfaced glaringly more than ever.

Holy Quran regards progeny a test for parents. Indeed it is, doubtlessly. So it is the duty of parents to protect kids from unhealthy exposure. Using PUBG or other platforms for recreational purposes are not adding to security. In fact, the very hubbub at the background is audible. This entices people to gauge deeper into each other’s private domain too. In short, such platforms reshape the idea of social media.  Apparently, Dua was trapped, or as it`s being put, convinced to marry, took place on this platform. Doesn`t it highlight the danger such applications pose to the social fabric of our country? Doesn`t  it uncover the dwindling paths our youth is choosing? Even more daunting is the fact that such actions destroy our social value system, especially the institution of family. This case speaks big volumes for it.

The state intuitions must ensure digital monitoring when it comes to such platforms. Social media is already under vigilance, then why not such platforms which can compromise not only women’s security, but also rupture social fabric too. Had it not been for the mainstream media, this case would have never seen the day`s light. But at the same time, the case consequences wears off our social fabric, even greater implications are seen elsewhere too. Parents willingness to trust upright kids recedes—which leads to further internal disruption about parent-child relationship.

Second, such women related cases must be handled to female investigation officers. It may not seem a strong idea but in comparison to men, female officers can connect to female victims at a deeper level. Likewise, overall overhauling needs to take place in Police system where women security is given paramount importance. One such step is depoliticizing police, instilling professionalism and strict vigilance of their jobs. The credibility of police in overall governance and women security depends on transparency within the functioning of police.

Third, registering Nikkahnamas Minors is indeed illegal and illegitimate step. Everyone knows it. But if it is so, then why Nikkah of a minor took place in first place. Such steps should be discouraged through penalization and strict censorship of places where such derogatory steps occur.

Fourth, within judiciary there seems to have a lack of consensus.  This gives an uncomforting gesture to all who look up to judiciary for relief. Women security greatly hinges upon these very verdicts. So, courts too must reorient themselves in accommodating such cases to ensure women security or else it’s an alarmingly up call for the opening of floodgates for the repeated reoccurring of such incidents.

This case is something that`s not just awful but flabbergasting as well. If, due to any reason, a minor is allowed to marry, then it will set a trend in this country. This country is already facing clergy highhandedness, ultra conservatism, highway rapes, and to add to the list, marriage of minors. Many other similar cases have existed from time to time, but this case is an opportunity for us to redefine our priorities towards minors’ security through a synergic approach mentioned above focusing on Police, social media monitoring, judicial prioritization and indeed the mass media.

The writer is an aspiring student pursuing legal studies. She can be reached at [email protected]