Echoes from the Abyss
By Farzana Hassan Shahid
I personally feel very connected with this theme.
In early 1950's. In my pind [Ghanian] one and half mile south of Kamoke, in Punjab, Pakistan, one early morning, we heard screams. From an extremely a poor family, One little girl, Inayat Bibi [Na'itaa'n] disappeared. She was my friend. We used to play together. Very bubbly, very happy go lucky, and very charming, beautiful girl she was. I never saw her after her abduction.
Alas I did not do anything about it. Whenever I think of this incident, I feel as if, by not doing anything, I had to do something with her abduction. When I grew up, why did I not confront the chaudhry's of the pind who were alive then, but not now. The guilt stays in me.
The book made me very angry [sad] at our treatment of the weaker equals. I had same feelings when I read Umraa-O-Jaan, [Mirza Mohammad Hadi Ruswa], and "Taboo" [Fozia Saeed].
In "Umra-o-Jaan" the main character addressed herself as "Rundee", "Gushti", Tvaa'ef", "Fahisha", etc. The author used these words for an innocent girl who had nothing to do with the profession she was forced into, prostitution. I understand exactly why such words are written for her. This is because the male [dominated society] has put their filth on innocent little girls, and blames not themselves. The authors, including Farzana Hassan, emphasize the point [male cruelty] by using same approach, which is so understandable.
"Taboo" [of Fozia Saeed, a sort of documentary], also tends to pull us in that direction.
Like Umra-o-Jaan, Meena also thinks of herself as a prostitute. SHE IS NOT, NEVER WAS, NEVER WILL BE.
Abducted girls forced into prostitution are NOT "Rundees", "Gushtis", "Tvaa'efs", "Fahishas", prostitutes. They are innocent, respectable, loving women like our own sisters, daughters.
Too much philosophy does not get us far, though. The fact remains that there exist, through support of police, and much higher authorities, such an enormous crime against humanity. They are also partners in this crime against humanity.
Here is my fantasy. I'd like to try for crimes against humanity, Dr. Pokhrel. But better is I try Chowla Bai. No, no, I should leave them alone, and try the local police officer. On further thoughts, I should not try him, but try his superior. No, no, I should try the judges, or the minister of justice, or the parliament, or the head of the state. I keep analyzing, and finally decide that I must kill the whole human race. In fact, I must go and kill god herself. But then again, I realize that I am blaming the wrong being. God has nothing to do with this crime against humanity. And since when am I a killer, anyway?
From fantasy, I return to the real world. There is too much crime against humanity. Little girls are being kidnapped day and night, in Asia, in South America and god knows where else. Why are we so helpless and cannot stop it. But Farzana Hassan's suggestion that we must join hands and fight against this crime is a welcome idea. Please lets do something.
Girls are kidnapped for prostitution, and boys for begging, and perhaps, also for prostitution. I suggest that there should be formed a non-political, non-religious international organization, whose only objective should be to find and rehabilitate missing children.
One major problem after her freedom from prostitution Meena faced was that now she could not get married because of her past. She thought that no man would ever accept her. I do not agree with her. I bet there do exist men who would accept her. I'm sure there exist men who would understand the girls' misery, and offer them so much love that the girl would forget her past abuse. In her ending of the book Farzana Hassan very intelligently introduced this philosophy.