A fresh take on latest rape and killing spree in Pakistan that has managed to garner the world’s attention on why the country has become the breeding ground for such activities, writes Usman Mustafa
  • 17 Feb - 23 Feb, 2018
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Focus
Map showing the top 10 safest countries for women

The world has always been a rather dark place. Great wars and famines and all manner of atrocities have always plagued it gloomy. Some say it’s getting better, all civilized and enlightened.


Here is a piece of international news that portrays a different picture: Australia – the country of my residence – is now hailed as the safest– in the world – for women.

Darker days so indeed are upon us.

It’s like finding that the town’s stone-mason is also the chancellor of its best university, or that the favourite diet of a crocodile is cauliflower.

Don’t get me wrong though: Australia is safer for women and children than most places. From what I have gathered for the past ten odd years I have been living here, I am sure-fire to report that if you are a woman, going about your business, you’d feel safe, irrespective of what time of the day or night it is, your age, or what you choose to wear, or even what chemical composition your blood is in, returning from a party you shouldn’t have gone to. You can Uber around, or take taxi, and why not a bus or a train, you have to fear pretty much the same as it is for any man, or a dog.

And that’s what women do here. Even over-do, some argue, for ladies – even girls in their preteens, dressed like Lady Gaga, marinated in deodorants, dash about in public transport, with not much to fear about their wellbeing. This is that proof-in-the-pudding you get to taste out here, that Australia has got it right.

The recipe of this pudding too is a real humdinger.

I once asked a top-cop about it, one Charlie Bezzina, who served seventeen years in the police force, retired as the head of homicide squad, wrote a well-received book on his experiences in the force, and went on to become the head of security for the Australian Cricket Team.

‘People don’t break law,’ he said, ‘because… they think (know) they won’t get away with it.’

So it is deterrence through fear of apprehension. Good. But what it isn’t, is deterrence through the social fabric, values of the individuals and community at large, not even the family structure or the fact that overwhelming majority of people has had some education. All of that are around, and sure have their fair share of effect but not quite of the definitive sway as exorbitant policing.

To draw a parallel is to knowing that your child doesn’t steal from the neighbours not because of your upbringing, rather him knowing that he’ll get caught, and as a result, crap will be beaten out of him for it.

I am not – even for a moment – suggesting there’s anything wrong with the morals of the Australians or that given an opportunity, everyone citizen will turn an anarch, but with family integrals and their influence under persistent pressures, and an ever so increasing indifference of people to religious rationales, the model the western societies are increasing relying on now is ‘strict law – stricter enforcements’, the sort of doctrine, music to the ears of those in and out of Pakistan, demanding the head of that ghastly beast of an existence that had our baby Zainab of Kasur slayed.

I agree with them – unquestionably, fervently. Who wouldn’t?

I wonder though, will that make us any safer, let alone safe or safest? How many hangings will it take for us to be Australia, antiseptic to crime, envy of the world, as once we were, before the British took charge, and systematically and irreversibly re-engineered the constitution of our culture, a tightly knit social network, driven by morals and ethics – where anyone elder than you was as respectful as your own parents, anyone younger like your own child, brother or sister, where fear of God and ultimate judgement was real as though tangible, where preventing antisocial, undesired behaviour wasn’t a concern of the law enforcements.

And here we are today. Internet and mad-mad TV bringing in the second round of western invasion, another, perhaps final, re-engineering of our community, culture and values; with governments existing only for themselves, the education system almost a century behind the rest of the world, parents unacquainted with the ever changing dynamics of our day and age, and media networks, a telecast version of the American wild-west, the two new intruders it seems are having it much too easy, easier for sure than the foot-soldiers of the British Raj, forbearing the rockets of Sultan Tipu.

As for baby Zainab of Kausr, melancholy takes over: I can’t help but question, what’s all this bickering on the media going on for? Are we looking for a closure we can live with, or an opening to an insight within ourselves, our way of life, and where we are heading with it? Former sounds tragic, latter remote, in both cases, it’s a loose-loose. •