Dialogue on child rights in Pakistan: Speakers demand to confront issues openly

September 18, 2015 Off By Web Desk

KARACHI: Human rights activists, businessmen, child rights defenders, representatives of minority rights, politicians and civil society activists on Friday underlined the need to raise voice against injustices and abuses with the children by confronting it and called for investigating violence against children including the root causes of abusive acts such as in Kasuar.

The speakers including Nafisa Shan, MNA, Dr. Shahida Rehman, MNA, Asad Iqbal Butt of HRCP, Zulfiqar Shah of Democracy Reporting International (DRI), former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Majyd Aziz, Rana Asif Habib of Initiator Human Development Foundation, Syed Najmi Alam of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Karachi division, former President of Karachi Press Club Imtiaz Khan Faran Bishop Nazir at the dialogue, orgnaised by PPP Human Rights Cell, Karachi at Pakistan-American Culture Centre Auditorium here.

Nafisa Shah, MNA who is a coordinator of PPP Human Rights Cell said the cell is organized to uphold the human rights in Pakistan. PPP has faced challenges of human rights in the passed including killings of its two leaders. “We want to see Pakistan where majority of people have progressive thinking,” she said that her party wanted to link itself with rights activists, journalists and people from minorities community for upholding of human rights of every citizen.

Zulfiqar Shah of DRI regretted that political parties have never given importance to the human rights issue. Political parties give importance to only media because it provides them publicity.

He said Pakistan is lagging behind in provision of human rights, but we cannot live in isolation as being a member of global community, Pakistan has to respect human rights. “You cannot hide the facts, but they would be counter-productive for the country,” he added.

Under the GSP-Plus facility for duty-free export of Pakistani products to European market, it is required for the government to implement the 27 international conventions including Convention of Child Rights (CRC) of the United Nation, which Pakistan has ratified 25 years back. Unfortunately, he pointed out serious efforts are not made to protect child rights. Kasur incident was the worst humility to the children, but it was hushed up. It is unfortunate many such events are kept hidden in Pakistan, he added.

He recommended that a task force be established which can recommend how to improve the conditions of the children and how much money is required for a child to live a decent life.

Vice President of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Asad Iqbal Butt said the Constitution of Pakistan ensures that the state is responsible to protect the child rights including protection of life and from the abuse.

He quoted some figures from HRCP report about child abuse in Pakistan. He said in 2013 about 3000 children were sexually abuse where as in 2014 over 4,500 were abused in the country. These figures indicate our attitude towards children.

Out of 10 sexually abused children, he pointed out that nine children are abused due to poverty. “We are dishonest people in the nature and we hide such events.” The sexually abused cases often happen in the family or neighbourhood. If we kept hiding, we cannot solve this problem,” he added.

A resolution, presented by Ms. Zeenia Shaukat of PILER, passed on the occasion demanded the government that the National Commission of Child Rights Bill be passed without any delay. The resolution also called for the establishment of necessary institutions and mechanisms to facilitate the implementation of the provisions of the Bill.

The previous National Assembly passed the Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill 2013 on its last day in session however, the Bill lapsed as it was not passed by the Senate of Pakistan and the National Assembly was dissolved. Similarly, the Child Protection (Criminal Law) Amendment Bill 2013 was approved by the federal Cabinet in its last meeting without any further progress. The resolution demanded that these laws be immediately passed by the current assemblies at the national and the provincial level. Moreover, necessary institutions for implementation of these laws be established.

A resolution passed on the occasion asked the media to act sensitively and develop a code of conduct in reporting on child abuse. Reporting on cases about child abuse or violence against children need to ensure that the victims are not stigmatized and a positive environment that encourages their integration into normal society is promoted.

The negative social and cultural practices, poverty, denial of basic rights and protections to children and absence of spaces for children to express themselves are all hindrance to the safety, wellbeing and secure future for children, the resolution said adding that the state and the society as a whole needed to revisit attitudes and undertake measures to address abuse, violence and negative practices against children.

In the recent months, the resolution stated that restoration of death penalty has resulted in some very disturbing and unjust cases of execution of persons who were convicted as juveniles. Due to the flawed justice system of Pakistan, such children end up spending years behind the bar only to be executed when they grow old. There needs to a stronger justice system that facilitates reformation for juvenile accused.