If seeing six-year-old children dance is sexually attractive, the problem lies with your sick mind, not the girls

Published: January 23, 2018
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Most people have been objecting on one of the girl’s clothing, but if clothes could protect people from monsters, young boys would never get raped. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT

In the wake of the incidents in Kasur, which has caused a chaos in the country, there has been a lot of uproar on social media against a kids’ dance competition conducted on a local morning show. Kids as young as six can be seen dancing on Bollywood songs, including item numbers, as they try to copy the dance moves often seen in such songs. Only a few seconds are enough to determine that the programme was indeed in poor taste and definitely should not have been aired.

Forward as Received

جب پوری دنیا کے سامنے کم سن بچیوں کو سرعام نچوایا جائے گا تو کم سن بچیوں کے ریپ میں کمی کیسے ہو گی 😡 😡ہم سب کا مطالبہ ہے کہ مورننگ شو پر پابندی لگائ جائےآپ آپنی رائے کا اظہار کمنٹ میں لازمی کرنا۔۔۔Report PEMRA BAN Sahir Lodhi

Posted by News Updates on Thursday, January 18, 2018

To add insult to injury, the promotional clips for these videos displayed pictures of participating children next to Bollywood item queens, as if posing the question “who did it better”. The outrage was, thus, neither unwarranted nor surprising.

However, looking at the outrage, I am baffled at how some people have used these clips to justify what has been happening in our country. How can any normal individual look at a child, regardless of what they are wearing or doing, and perceive them to be sexually attractive? Who looks at a child and thinks of them in a sexual manner? Only sick minds are capable of doing that.

Ask any child in Pakistan, and they will most likely have at least one story of harassment, cruelty, exploitation or a narrow escape to share. I consider myself to be among those few incredibly lucky ones who didn’t face anything too damaging during their childhood. However, being born female, and raised in a country where roughly 11 children are abused every single day, I have had my share of narrow escapes.

Growing up, like any other child, my world also revolved around my family, friends and playing. But once I entered my teens and started learning about life, albeit on my own with little guidance on such matters, I realised how blessed I was to never have experienced the atrocities that many children are not lucky enough to escape.

There is one incident of narrow escape that still makes me immensely proud of myself, which happened when I was around seven or eight-years-old. During those days, children could play outside with their friends without being hit by a stray bullet or getting kidnapped, and even if they did, we never heard about it on TV the next day.

I was playing with a friend of mine when a street vendor selling corn and chickpeas, who used to frequently visit our area, started pelting us with chickpeas. He was sleazily singing a song which we didn’t understand, and started following us on the street. My immediate reaction was to run inside my home and tell my father about what had happened. My dearest Abbu, who was entertaining a guest, did not ask any questions or order me to stay in the house. Instead, he rushed outside and informed the chowkidar (guard), and also warned the vendor of grave consequences if he was ever to be seen in the locality again.

At that time, I didn’t comprehend what had happened, or what could have happened. If anything, I was pleasantly surprised to see that for once, my father had picked a fight for me instead of asking us to forgive an unkind friend, cousin or an annoying classmate. Little did the child in me understand that this experience was very different from the harmless disagreements I had with friends and acquaintances.

After all these years, whenever I read about child sexual exploitation in our country, I always reminiscence about this incident and realise how innocent children are and how horrible some adults can be.

As strange as the episode was, I do appreciate a few things that happened on that day. First, I informed my father of the incident without any hesitation. My siblings and I were to share every minute detail of our lives with our parents, which is why I wasn’t afraid of reaching out to them; it was routine for me. We did get scolded when we deserved it, but I do feel that encouraging us to share strengthened our bond as a family and gave us the confidence to speak up.

Second, there was no awkwardness or anger or embarrassment afterward. My father never stopped us from playing outside, and he didn’t make it seem like an outlandish experience. Although I feel that as a parent I would do something slightly different – I would explain to my child what had happened, or what could have happened, but I suppose that those times were indeed very different.

Third, and most importantly, I don’t remember my parents asking me to not wear frocks or to start wearing a scarf or a carry a dupatta following the incident. I remained a child for many years to come, and my innocence was never questioned, stifled or challenged.

Unfortunately, things are very different now. A seven-year-old Zainab gets brutally murdered, and people conclude that westernisation is responsible for it. The Kasur scandal is once again in the limelight, but people are blaming children dancing on Bollywood item numbers for increasing rates of child sexual abuse. This is not in any way a defence or promotion of item numbers (if anything, I do agree they objectify women and should be banned), but blaming innocent victims for someone else’s barbarity has never been right and never will be.

What astonishes me even more is that seemingly normal people, who superficially do not condone such cruel incidents, still think it is acceptable to deflect the responsibility on victims instead of the perpetrators. These victims aren’t adults who can sense danger, or who in the eyes of our society were “asking for it”. These victims are innocent, vulnerable and clueless children who deserve anything but exploitation.

Around the globe, there is a strong movement taking place against sexual harassment, assault and victimisation. As with any other campaign, the #MeToo movement is also evolving with each passing day. Some stories are confusing, some enlightening, and some simply heart-wrenching. However, all of us are learning something through every emerging story, and ultimately expect the movement to bring a positive change.

Unfortunately, in Pakistan, we are fast regressing to an era where the victims are further victimised by our society. If a woman gets harassed, we assume that she wasn’t dressed appropriately. Similarly, if a child gets raped, the parents are deemed irresponsible. The blame is shifted on to everyone but the perpetrator.

After reading some disturbing comments on the videos, I am horrified to see the mentality that prevails in our country. Seeing a six-year-old child dance should not be pleasurable or sexually gratifying to anyone. Most people have been objecting on one of the girl’s clothing, but if clothes could protect people from monsters, young boys would never get raped.

Can any one explain this? On one side we are saddened by an innocent angel being raped and Murdered #justiceforzainab…

Posted by Nauman Arfeen on Monday, January 15, 2018

Or should we now expect our young boys to wear a scarf or dupatta to protect them from abusers? Can we not even send our children for Quran lessons anymore? Is there no accountability for corrupt politicians and law enforcers who have time and again disappointed us and endangered our children by acquitting criminal elements? And most importantly, is it not the sick people who attack and rape little children that deserve all of our condemnation, loathing and rage?

Blaming a child’s attire or their dance moves to justify looking at them in a sexual manner is not normal. It seems that as a society, we are so desperate to avert from the real causes of perversion that we end up accusing our children. The prevalence of this attitude and mentality can only further delay the realisation that though there is indeed something wrong in our society, none of the fault lies in our children.

Dureen Anwer

Dureen Anwer

Dureen is a communications professional from Pakistan, now living in the UK. Having worked for a local government and now for the healthcare sector in England, she often wonders why Pakistan can't be developed like these Western countries. She tweets @ConfusciousDee (twitter.com/ConfusciousDee)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.