Letters To The Editor

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela

Forced conversions

Abductions and forced conversions is an issue faced by all the minority religions across Pakistan, but in particular, Hindu and Christian women and girls face the problem at its magnanimity. Due to deficiencies in policing and the complexity of the crime, the precise number of who are abducted, forcibly converted and raped is difficult to ascertain. But it is roughly estimated that 1000 women and girls a year become victim to forced conversions. Legal actions must be taken to put an end to this heinous crime. In fact, solutions lie not just in legal mechanisms, but also in mechanisms to tackle the economic inequality that religious minorities in Pakistan face. Furthermore, an entire reworking of our criminal justice system is necessary. That starts with the police. Many crimes can be easily avoided if our police force is competent.

Sameed Khan,

Domestic violence cases soar during lockdown

With the pandemic hitting the economy and sending people into quarantine, a rise in domestic violence has been reported in many countries. Domestic abuse has already been a haunting problem in Pakistan; more cases are surfacing in this time of anxiety and depression for all. Mental health professionals providing online therapy sessions have also seen a rise in the cases of domestic abuse in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown in Pakistan. As a result of quarantine, women are forced to be locked down with their abusers. I urge all authorities to make the prevention and address violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19. Together, we can and must prevent violence everywhere, from war zones to people’s homes, as we work to beat COVID-19.

Zara Hussain,

Thank you to the undervalued heroes

Thank yous are too often implied. They get casually dumped in a box labelled “take it as read”, presumed too self-evident to be publicly stated. Sometimes they’re expressed through a knowing nod or a smile, or – before our current plight, of course – a gently squeezed hand clasp. In normal times that’s not really good enough, and in a time of mounting catastrophe, it definitely isn’t. So, this is a thank you, more profusely meant than any other. Thank you to supermarket workers, as panicked people throng your stores, leaving your shelves in need of relentless replenishment, your checkouts requiring constant attention and disinfection. Thank you to the paramedics, nurses, and doctors overwhelmed and under-resourced even before a public health emergency detonated in your hospitals and ambulances. You are lacking in equipment and staff, and – with insufficient masks, protective gear or testing – are risking your health to save lives. Thank you to the cleaners, among the nation’s most undervalued and underpaid workers. As it is, you save thousands of lives each year – in hospitals and in office blocks – by extinguishing the invisible tormentors of our immune systems. Thank you to those who produce and deliver food and the goods necessary for a healthy existence. Thank you to the teachers who, by continuing to educate the children of key workers, allow doctors and nurses to focus on saving lives and the country to function. And as we say thank you, let’s note who we are disproportionately saying them to: women, minorities and the low-paid, all of whom always suffer the most in every crisis. Thank yous are important, but they are not sufficient. If this gratitude is to be given meaning, it should lead to an overdue reassessment of who we value most in society and how we treat them. It should not have taken a pandemic to expose how poorly paid, insecure and badly treated so many workers that society cannot function without, truly are.

Farhat Agha,