Thoughts. Words. Action.

Exploiting Children to the Extreme – Killing Them

Two events over the last week yet again showed the harsh and cruel place the world has become for children.  Before I go any further, I must admit that I am focused on a certain part of the world, and am driven by my strong convictions of (i) protecting children, and (ii) that people use religion for amoral purposes, thereby corrupting it and taking away all the inherent benefits that any religion brings to humanity.  In this case, it is the continuing thread of the distortion of Islam.  I must also admit that I am not a scholar of Islam by any stretch of the imagination.

Spozhmai aged 10, in Afghanistan.

The first incident is about a 10 year old Afghan girl, named Spozhmai.  According to the news reports, her own brother, suspected to be a local Taliban commander, is the one who forced her to attempt suicide bombing.  The plan was for her to carry a suicide vest and an extra set of clothes, swim across a river at night, change clothes, and spend the night in an abandoned house.  In the morning, when police officers would arrive at the local station to start work, she was to wear the vest, enter the station and detonate the bomb, killing herself and as many of the police officers as she could.

Now, the age difference between Spozhmai and her brother Zahir is not highly unusual.  But the fact that this so-called ‘leader’ was ready to kill his sister, who was literally like his daughter only incites rage within me.  Abhorrent as that is, what makes it even worse for me is that he did it in the name of religion.  What kind of a human being and man is he?  I have daughters, and I, much as any father, would die before allowing any harm to them.  What goes on in the minds of these Taliban?

The fortunate turn of events was that when Spozhmai went into the river, the water was too cold, and caused her to scream.  The same police officers she was meant to destroy the next day heard her and fished her out of the river.  And what did the manly, courageous Taliban commander do upon seeing the police?  Why, he tucked his tail between his legs and ran in the other direction, of course.

After Spozhmai told the whole story to the police, and it got around on social media, the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai got involved, and according to reports, ordered the officials to return the girl to her parents, after promises that they will protect her.  Look, I don’t have any answers here, but I would venture to say that is not the best course of action for that little girl.

This incident is not an isolated one.  According to CNN, in 2013, 41 children between the age of 6 and 11 were caught, intended to be used in a similar way in Afghanistan.  Who knows how many were not saved?

Aitazaz, aged 14, in Pakistan.

The second incident has a very sad ending.   It is an about a 14 year old Pakistani boy, named Aitazaz Hassan Bangash.  He was a 9th grader in the northwestern part of Pakistan.  According to the reports, as he was going to school with his friends, someone dressed in school uniform approached Aitazaz and asked him where the school was.  This raised the suspicions of Aitazaz and some of his classmates, but while others backed off, he decided to tackle the bomber.  The bomber detonated his bomb, killing himself and Aitazaz.

While Aitazaz was not exploited for suicide bombing, in my opinion, it is not much different.  The objective of the cowardly group that sent the bomber was clearly to kill innocent young children.  That there was only one victim instead of many is somehow a miracle, but with a very high cost.

Now, the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif has nominated Aitazaz for the Sitara-e-Shujaat, a prestigious civil award reserved for acts of bravery.  While this is all well and fine, and even though this nomination probably came about due to the high visibility of the incident on social media, the important question is what is Mr. Sharif and his government doing to never have to give this award to children in this manner ever again?

I simply cannot wrap my mind around the idea of killing children, exploiting them, or willingly putting them in life threatening situations.  Yet, I know this happens not only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also all over the world, including the developed countries, where it takes the form of human trafficking and sex slavery.

And what do these people do it for?  To promote and ideology?  In the name of religion by distorting it into a hellish, twisted version of what it is supposed to be?  To make some money?  All they are doing is slowly killing their future, and the future of humanity, because that is what children are.

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