LAHORE (News Lens Pakistan) – Ummay Rubaba, a 12 – year- old girl was brutally beaten black and blue by her employer until The Child Protection and Welfare Bureau intervened and rescued her.
Rubaba is not the only one who faced this kind of treatment. It might be the story of every second of third child working at houses and other places.
Secretary General Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) I. A. Rehman told News Lens Pakistan that a bill against violence on Child Domestic Workers was presented in the Punjab Assembly in January 2014, but, no one seemed ready to pay attention to it.
“Policies to promote children education and checking sexual abuse and torture were nowhere in this country,” Rehman added. He further said that Prevention of Children Marriage Amendment Bill 2010 was still waiting to be passed.
“The dilemma is that not a single legislation has been introduced in last six years for the children under 18. Child Protection Policy is badly needed to protect children. Severe punishments must be included in the Criminal Law in this regard,” he further added.
Moreover Rehman said, “Both Criminal Law Bill 2009 and Child Protection Policy are not being taken up by the government. In addition, a bill to set up National Commission for the Rights of the Children 2001 is still pending. Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill 2010 was approved in National Assembly but approval by Senate is still pending.”
Pakistan was one of the first twenty signatories in 1990 that sanctioned UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) conventions taken up by the United Nations General Assembly. But, Child Rights Laws are yet to be passed in the country.
The Regional Manager SPARC (Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child) Sajjad Ahmad Cheema told News Lens Pakistan that according to the SPARC annual report, more than four million children are part of the work force. “Poverty compelled parents to send their children to work instead of schools,” he added.
According to a report of SAHIL, a non-governmental organization based in Islamabad, Child sexual exploitation is intensifying especially in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkha provinces. The report states that 2800 cases of child sexual abuse were registered at police stations in 2013 and 2987 in 2014. He further said, “Cases of sexual ill-treatment were registered and reported more in urban areas because of the responsiveness and quick reach of media.”
Konpal is a non-governmental organization based in Karachi that works against all kinds of abuse against children. According to Konpal Program Director, Shahnaz Yasin, child begging is also a vital issue of Pakistan that needs serious response.
“It’s really unfortunate that capital area of our country doesn’t carry Child Protection System. In fact, federal government has allocated only 0.67% for child specific plans”, she further stated. “Data related to child beggars is unavailable, but it is obvious that the number of child beggars is increasing everywhere, especially in Sindh. Moreover, child marriages and sexual abuse are dark faces of our society.”
Minister for Human Rights Punjab, Khalil Tahir Sindhu told News Lens Pakistan about the existing laws i.e. Child Marriage Act, Corporal Punishment Bill and Labor Laws. “Yes, I do agree that the structure to implement these laws isn’t result oriented. Complete ban on child labor, punishment for child marriage, child abuse and torture will be introduced in near future,” he expressed the resolve. “Domestic Labor Laws, Child Begging Law and Sexual Harassment Act will be introduced this year.”
Federal Minister for Human Rights, Pervaiz Rasheed held that awareness of civic rights in the society could play a key role to improve the system. “Government recognizes the significance of child rights and serious work is in process. Human Rights ministry is working to formulate laws of child protection. New legislation and pending laws will be in the parliament soon,” he told News Lens Pakistan.