On Thaqif, and why kids will still suffer

I heard what happened to young Thaqif, and quite honestly I was totally indifferent. It may seem cold hearted, but in retrospect I believe that this wasn’t something new.
I am well aware that my sexual orientation would mean me never having a biological child of my own, or even the laws of this land not allowing me to adopt. I will never know the tiresome act of parenting while trying to earn enough to get by on a day-to day-basis. 
But at the same time, aren’t parents supposed to have some form of connection with their kid, some bond between them, to know when something isn’t right?
Isn’t there a paternal instinct that cautions parents that perhaps something is wrong with their children through their actions, changes in behaviour, perhaps even the constant demand from their children to change schools, or teachers, or classes, or even the school bus driver?
A young boy lost his life because of abuse by a dorm warden, which initially led to getting both his legs amputated, with plans to remove yet another limb, after being left at home suffering for two weeks before seeking medical attention.
The signs were there, recorded in his own personal journal – telling how he was going to plead his parents to change schools because he couldn’t handle the abuse.
At this point, his death has been classified as murder, the warden has been outed as a former convict who was jailed for 30 months for thievery, the school has been exonerated by the Johor state religious authorities of any wrongdoing, and non-government agencies are calling for better regulations for tahfiz schools.
Meanwhile, the prime minister announced giving RM80 million to schools such as these which focus on religious teachings and memorising the Quran – only RM30 mil of this was budgeted for 2017.
And yet, Thaqif’s death for me raises more questions than answers.
Tales of abuse in tahfiz schools have been going on for years, and the initial, widely reported case of such abuse came to the spotlight just last year. Syed Azmi and Wardina Safiyyah had highlighted a case of sexual abuse in such a school, and ended up getting served with a lawsuit by the so-called religious personality running it.
But more so, kids are being abused, raped, murdered and becoming even victims of incest in our country for a long time. If you wish to read further, UNICEF published a report for Malaysia in 2009 detailing child abuse and incest cases, with a grisly sidebar detailing headline cases going back to April 1987.
More than that, more and more confessions have been brought to light now regarding abuse of students in tahfiz schools, boarding schools and even everyday schools altogether, that may see an end to the quieting of such cases happening.
Sadly, I’m not so optimistic – because we as a nation would rather side with the school where the kid was abused to death. We would side with the grieving parents of a kid who fell off multiple storeys in a shopping mall rather than demand justice for the dead from negligence.
We would rather cry, bemoan stupidity on social media, be emotional and accept the fate as an act of God, rather than fault the careless parent or school bus driver who negligently let a kid suffocate to death in a car or a van.
We would rather offer our condolences to the family of Thaqif, rather than ask why he had to suffer two weeks of his limbs rotting to the point of threatening his life, beyond saving to the point of needing amputation at home.
We would rather read a headline of kids riding bicycles at 3AM being rammed by a car, blame the driver for negligence, instead of asking who the heck allows kids to go out at such odd hours to perform stunts on a main road with traffic.
I would think parents would care for the wellbeing of their kid to the point of going nuts when these cases happen. But instead, what I see, what I read, is a total resignation to the point of saying it was preordained by God, rather than that caused by humanity or the lack of it.
And honestly, if Malaysians far and wide believe it as such, then as I said, I’ll be just as indifferent to the next death, the next amputated limb, the next dozen or so stitches on a kids head after having a chair flung at them by a teacher.
Because at the end of the day, we will all offer our condolences on Facebook, on Twitter, discuss the news for a few weeks, and then continue chatting about something else.

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