Social Taboos Risking Innocent Lives
Sshhh… Don’t Talk About it… Just Don’t!! Most of us have been listening to this phrase from our elders in the daily life affairs which apparently mean we ‘must not’ discuss ‘certain matters’ with anybody. In fact discussion comes later; first, one has to realize the need of talk. The reason of avoiding the conversation could be the hidden fear – what if the reality may be exposed? What if our children start blaming us if they know the truth? Or the most common one; ‘Kahin woh bigar na jayen.’ (Translation from Urdu: “what if they get indecent”).
I regard all of these as lame excuses. I believe, no knowledge is bad in anyway and truth must be exposed in front of all; if you don’t expose it, others will do that someday and also, they would blame you for hiding the truth because this hide and seek of reality would have harmed many innocent lives by that time. I shall begin my discussion from the sociological perspective of a taboo and throw some light on the prevalent taboo issues in the Pakistani society.
According to Sociology; “A taboo is a strong social prohibition (or ban) relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred and forbidden based on moral judgment and sometimes even religious beliefs. Breaking the taboo is usually considered objectionable or abhorrent by society.” On an universal scale in almost all cultures, taboos can include dietary restrictions (Halal and Haram), restrictions on sexual activities and relationships (pre-marital & extra-marital sex, incest, etc), Ideas like Abuse; harassment of women; children, family planning, abortion, women liberation, sex education, homosexuality etc also come under the flagship of taboos.
People who ask to put things under the carpet just to show that ‘it’s all clean here, actually create grounds for many other vulnerable individuals to suffer from that. There are many taboos exist in the society, some of which are being discussed among people due to their presentation on the mainstream media whilst some issues are still hidden under the curtain of nation’s dignity.
If we don’t talk about domestic violence on women in our houses as extreme as acid attacks, just because of our dignity and an artificially created image of ‘sophisticated-religious society’ – would it not happen? On contrary, it would occur more often because offenders know that their crime will go unnoticed this time again.
Furthermore, there is another alarming issue of Child Sexual Abuse, which is being ignored. I have been following some cases of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) taking place in the country. According to SAHIL – an Islamabad based NGO, working exclusively on the issue of CSA reported that the data of six months from January to June 2010 reveals that a total of 1216 children (including boys and girls) were sexually abused throughout Pakistan which means approximately 6 children per day are being sexually abused.
Another harsh reality to mention here is that these are the figures according to the reported cases, as the issue is taboo in the society so the actual number might be much higher.
Some of us may not agree with the above statistics as they may think how it can be possible in Pakistan. My answer to those innocent fellows is that, everything happens everywhere. It’s just that some people face the reality and others hide it. Most of the people in Pakistan don’t register their voice; raising the voice is a step though.
Having a restricted communication system background, people are not ready to ‘think’. Most of the people don’t consider it a social problem. Those who are aware about the importance and sensitivity of the issue do not get an appropriate platform to voice their opinion. Due to some misguided cultural; religious norms; myths, the person who speaks against the taboo are discouraged and blamed by family, peers and other members of the society. Most importantly, people are stuck in issues like electricity, water, gas, security concerns – they do not find time and effort to work for the change of alarming norms of the society.
The social issues will never get resolved unless we face them, talk about them, and fight for their solutions collectively. Hiding things under the carpet won’t actually clean the dirt unless we clean it ourselves. By doing this, may be our own hands get little dirty but we can always wash them. But those innocent yet vulnerable individuals who are at risk and are not being helped because of our silence, cannot be able to ‘wash’ their scars; stains throughout their entire lives.
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