Fate of the vulnerable

The devastating earthquake that hit Pakistan on October 8 has caused unprecedented damage to life, property, communication links and infrastructure, but that is not all. There are some who are left more vulnerable than the rest – women and children. Thousands of women and children have been left homeless by the annihilating earthquake, and are at risk of dying from exposure and malnutrition in the coming months. Unicef has warned that 10,000 more children could die from hunger, cold and disease in the coming weeks because aid has still not reached some parts of the quake-hit areas, and has called for immediate steps to push through more supplies, saying that children would be the first victims in a possible “second wave of deaths” as winter approaches. The aftershocks which are being felt countrywide are adding to the risks to the victims in the Azad Kashmir and NWFP region.

The government and the people of Pakistan are doing everything in their power to help the victims but our efforts are inadequate in relation to the misery that has befallen these people. The relief efforts are continuing with fervour, but the hazards of health and shelter are not the only dangers to these hapless women and children; in fact, there is a looming danger that in the guise of relief workers, some wretched people could play foul and take undue advantage of this difficult situation. There is therefore a dire need to monitor the activities of the relief workers so that unscrupulous people cannot take advantage of the ongoing misery by exploiting the women and children of this great tragedy. There are thousands of women who have been left alone after the earthquake as the male members of their families have died or are still missing, and thousands of children have been orphaned and left without any kith or kin.

The government has taken a sensible step by disallowing the private adoption of these children, as many cases were being witnessed where strangers were coming from every nook and corner of the country claiming to be the next of kin of these orphans. It is speculated that many traffickers, beggar groups, and other suspicious individuals were trying to take full advantage of this crisis. The government has made a wise decision to provide for these children itself rather than relying on private adoption, where there was a risk of the children falling into the wrong hands. Although the government has claimed that female centres are being established, the implementation of this intention remains to be seen. Even if these centres are established, a potential danger still remains for these females as it is known that sometimes women can be exploited in these centres if there is no proper check on them.

The government needs to establish safe shelters for these women and children, and regular monitoring of these shelters should take place. The children should be educated in good institutions to ensure they are not deprived of the opportunity to build a healthy, purposeful future for themselves. Women should be offered work with adequate protection so that they too can stitch together some dignity and self-respect from the debris of their shattered lives. These people have suffered immense trauma, and the only way to rehabilitate them is by nurturing, protecting and caring for them. Let the entire country be turned into a safe haven for them.


Jawwad said…
the problem is if the govt . have money then they dont have stuff in that much quantity so foreign based pakistaniz needs to be involved to send stuff like tents, blankets etc etc
BD said…
You have indeed touched a sensitive yet genuine issue. It took just one day to change the world completely for those innocent children. God knows what life is in store for them.
I too subscribe to the Government policy for not allowing adoption at this point of time, since in times of chaos it is difficult to check the authenticity of prospective parents.
However once the situation improves, the children should be allowed to be adopted after proper background check since they too deserve a family in some form.
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BD said…
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