Here are some things to be mindful of when discussing the Dua Zehra case

Mahnoor Jalal

Mahnoor Jalal

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The kidnapping of Dua Zehra had captured national attention and led to a social media uproar towards the incompetence of the authorities who had failed to take responsibility to find the girl. Dua’s parents had gone on a talk show where they had tearfully revealed that when they had requested multiple mosque’s to announce her name for people to search for her-they had rejected because her name was “shia sounding”

However, today it was announced that Dua had been found in Lahore, and she had left by her consent to marry a boy, as she had told the Lahore police. Along side with some people congratulating the parents for finding their beloved daughter, there is a sinister form of victim blaming and slut-shaming being targeted towards the victim since she had confessed that she had run away and done her Nikkah by her own choice. Like this woman on Twitter is now blaming Dua for her own crime by saying that she was irresponsible  for choosing to run away and get her Nikkah done and terrifying her aged parents.

Why are we ignoring the crucial fact that the victim in this case is a fourteen year old girl who has been groomed in to a nikkah, and not the man who had pressurized her in to running away or the maulvi who had performed her Nikkah? As the Supreme Court has ruled, any woman who is 18 or below is legally considered as a child and will be prohibited from getting married. So then in this case, why is the public so quick to lash out at a child who could have been subjected to grooming by a grown adult, who is not facing the same interrogation and public shaming. Our society is quick to jump to blaming women for the crimes, we’re ready to blame them for the length of their clothes or bar them from going out at night as a solution to the rising rates of rape or assault. Or as a response to cases regarding domestic violence, we’re quick to blame women for wanting financial independence or less household chores. But in all of this, we never question why are the abusers allowed to get away with murdering or abusing women.

Dua Zehra’s case has sparked a national conversation around how cases regarding women are treated lightly by the police, and how much victim blaming and gaslighting is targeted towards the victim and their families which prevents the abusers from being caught. Women on social media pointed out that in this case there is a literal child involved, so its the responsibility of the media and the public to be careful in how they engage in this conversation by not blaming the victim, and instead creating strict laws that hold criminals accountable to prevent the rise of crime against women.