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The Brutal Peacekeepers

The literature, whenever written in a liberal form, has always remained under the attack of critics. The critics, which include, inter alia, those who have criticized the content of the written form, and have given their opinion ‘literally’, as well as those, whose fierce criticism has led to disapproval of the literature at all, on account of obscenity and immorality, causing the authors to face trials and punishments. While ‘disproving’ the content, as being too liberal, we, the critics, have always forgot the characteristic of literature; that it depicts the harsh realities of our society.

This brings to my mind one famous (yet controversial) short story, written by Saadat Hassan Manto, titled “Khol Do”. Manto wrote this short story during the time of partition of sub-continent, when several thousand people were made to leave their homes and move to ‘other’ territory – the Pakistan. Among those homeless people, travelling from one country to the other, was this one old man with his daughter, who realized that he had lost her, when he opened his eyes from the unconsciousness after reaching in a camp in Pakistan. While searching for his daughter, he asked a group of volunteers to help him find his daughter, who assured him that they will find her and bring her home. Even after they had found her, they did not let the man know, until, one night, when people saw an unconscious girl laying near their camps.

The most pinching part of this short story is; when she was rushed to the doctor, and the doctor started to examine her, he asked his father to open the window, in the words “Khol Do”. Theses were only words that had psychological effect on her, and as a result, she loosened her shalwar, and slowly undressed herself. This is how Manto explains what she had to pass before reaching to her father.

Regardless of the fact that people like Manto had brought literature to the point where the hidden and bitter realities of our societies are clear before us, as readers; to the edge where we have to pick one out of the two paths, the virtuous one, and the promiscuous one; to the mirror, before which we can admire our outer beauty, or condemn our inner hatred; to the scale where we determine the bestiality behind a ‘human rights’ activist; we, as critics of ‘obscene’ liberal literature, have always opposed the writing and reading of such literature. Unfortunately, we have reached at the peril, where obscene actions are allowed, whereas the literature warning us, is disallowed.

Recently, a report from United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) has concluded a report, revealing that the United Nations peacekeepers, deployed in several poor countries, are involved in trading goods such as food, money and jewelry in order to have ‘transactional’ sex with, women, teenagers and children. The report is an outcome of interviews conducted in several undeveloped countries, like Liberia and Haiti, where women, to fulfil their hunger had to have sex with the UN peacekeeping personnel, and the same had remained unreported. Ironically, in case of non-payment of consideration, the only remedy that these miserable victims of transactional sex had, was to keep the badges of personnel.

The situation, at hand, is not every different from what Manto has described in his short story. The only difference is the time when such stories are brought before the common people. The time, when Manto had described the same, he was heavily criticized for writing immoral literature, even though it was the representation of true events actually happening during the period of partition. When a girl, who had lost her father, was now ready to travel alone with this group of (male) volunteers, in a hope that they will take her to her father. And the ‘only’ expense, she had to pay, was exploitation of her body, in consideration of getting back to her father. Whereas the only source of happiness the father had, was that his daughter was alive.

To this end, I, like many others, am unsure if this abuse of exploitation of one’s body, in return of a favor, can ever be avoided. However, the beast, inside us, can always be trained (read: caged) in a way so as to avoid getting into such inhumane actions. And, when, the literature, telling such stories, may be ‘not-banned’, in the name of censorship, and controlling the obscene literature, know thy ‘self’, should be the right of every human being.

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