A clip of a policeman striking a woman across her face was posted on a popular short-form social media website
The ephemeral nature of the social media and its inability to influence events is an oft-told tale; less oft told is the tale of the social media making an impact. An example of the latter has emerged in recent days. A clip of what appeared to be a policeman striking a woman across her face as she sat with a young boy to her left was posted on a popular short-form social media website. The clip quickly had thousands of reposts, and the story began to emerge. The man was not a policeman but a volunteer in the service of the police, a member of the Police Qaumi Razakar, but was wearing a police uniform at the time the incident was filmed on Muharram 7. The woman in the clip was accused of theft and she had allegedly been arrested for theft on at least one previous occasion. Shopkeepers at Gulf Market in Clifton, Karachi, had detained her initially. The clip went viral, came to the attention of the mainstream media and was quickly acted upon with the man who struck the woman being arrested at his house on October 28. He was produced before a judicial magistrate, regretted his actions and pleaded forgiveness.
Whatever the woman may or may not have done, it is not for the police or anybody working in a support role to them to dispense either summary justice or a summary beating whilst in custody. The incident was witnessed by serving police officers who made no attempt to restrain or admonish their volunteer. It would have disappeared without trace was it not to have been posted to a social media website and the rest is history. The police are frequently accused of brutality towards those that they detain but there is rarely any evidence to support the accusations. The woman may or may not have committed a crime, may or may not be a habitual criminal — but she deserves to be appropriately treated whatever her alleged crime. Everybody is innocent until proven guilty and yes, ephemeral social media can sometimes flex their muscles.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2015.
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