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This article addresses the foremost myth of child abduction; that it is generally committed by strangers. This commonly held view is considered in light of the extant empirical knowledge base.
Research indicates that stranger abduction occurs less frequently than family abduction or acquaintance abduction; stereotypical stranger abductions are rarer still, and stereotypical stranger abductions resulting in homicide are extraordinarily rare. There is no evidence of a stranger‐abduction epidemic, and there is no clear evidence for a child abduction epidemic overall.
I would like to highlight the issue of kidnapping of children in Pakistan through your newspaper. In Pakistan, kidnapping is a common crime which is being neglected as a trivial issue and not given the kind of importance that it requires. Now kidnapping children for ransom has become as common as beggary.
In 2017, nearly 35,000 cases of child kidnapping were reported in Pakistan, and this is expected to rise this year. The abductors usually kidnap children in streets, shops and parks. Later parents are asked to pay a large sum of money for the release of kidnapped children. It is important that when the government talks about improving the law and order situation in the country it must also take serious action against child abduction which is definitely not a trivial issue.
We wake up to countless news headlines that talk about kids going missing and even strangled to death owing to personal jealousies. It is pitiful and poignant, the growing lack of morals and conscience in human beings. Incidents like these reaffirm the sad fact that we have failed to give our children a world with happiness and no sorrow – a world where they can cherish their adolescent years to the fullest without their parents being worried about their safety.
Pakistan became the first South Asian and the fourth Muslim country to align itself with the principles of the Convention and on 25 September 2017 the Ministry of Law and Justice took action to ensure that the family courts are in a position to entertain international child abduction cases concerning custody, orders passed by foreign courts and judgments from Contracting States of the Hague Convention.
The Protocol reflects a judicial understanding trying to secure the return of an abducted child to the country of their habitual residence. But since it was entirely non-binding in Pakistani law and was an exclusive UK-Pakistan initiative, it did not really address the problem of child abduction in concrete terms.
The Hague Convention provides a structure to support contracting states, by providing a various civil, non-criminal, legal formalities and procedures for the protection and safe return of abducted children when removed from Convention countries.
The process of recovering abducted and wrongfully retained children from Pakistan is lengthy and tiresome but the judgments of the superior courts show that the Pakistani judiciary does have a tendency to give custody of the child to the non-Muslim mother with foreign custody rights even when the abducting father resorts to hiding behind Islam to shield his actions.
Despite the existence of charters like the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, which promises ‘participation by children in decisions affecting them; protection of children against discrimination and all forms of neglect and exploitation; prevention of harm to them; and provision of assistance to children for their basic needs’, we must ask ourselves, why is it so convenient for criminals to exploit children? Where do our faults lie in our failure to protect our children? Why is it so difficult to implement the countless child protection acts that have been passed internationally over the years? Or are our governments and decision-making bodies so occupied with policies that they believe are of utmost importance that they have failed to give us our basic rights as citizens of a country?
Being a daughter myself, I cannot fathom the thought of living without my parents as much as I cannot fathom the thought of another child living without family amid unknown faces and identities – It truly is heart-breaking. I urge you all, my sisters, mothers, daughters, fathers, brothers, to pray for all the departed souls and spread their stories as far as you can, to officers and ministers in the top tiers of the Pakistani government, to every nook and cranny, to every media outlet, newspapers, embassies.