SPARC Conducts Awareness Raising Seminar on Child Labour in Hyderabad

SPARC recently conducted a seminar on Child Labour Awareness in Hyderabad, Sindh. The seminar participants included representatives from SPARC and different other civil society organizations, labour department representatives, trade unions, and federations from across Sindh province, as well as U.S. Consul General in Karachi, Grace W. Shelton. The SPARC team at the event was headed by Sadia Hussain (Executive Director SPARC).

This seminar was among the ongoing endeavor to raise awareness against child labour and to reduce its prevalence in Sindh. SPARC is currently also a member of a joint task force that has been setup under the Jamshoro initiative; which is aimed at ensuring that it remains a child labour free district. This initiative was also among the topics of discussion during the seminar.

ABPAW Gifts Land to SPARC for Setting Up Street Children & Community Center

An MOU has been signed between Association of Business Professional and Agricultural Women (ABPAW) and SPARC, according to which a ABPAW has gifted land to SPARC (for lifetime) for setting up a Street Children & Community center. SPARC is very thankful to ABPAW.

SPARC All Set to Launch 5th Center for Street Children in Islamabad

SPARC is opening a new Center for Street children with the collaboration of AIR Trust from February, 2017 in Waheed Abad, near Zia Masjid, Islamabad. SPARC previously had 4 centers for street children across Pakistan, including Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad and Peshawar. The Islamabad center will be SPARC’s 5th center. SPARC’s street children centers offer non-formal Education, psycho-social support, reunification support, health & hygiene care, medical camps, stakeholder meetings and awareness campaigns, as well as education and vocational training for marginalized/out of school children.

Two Days Training Workshop on Capacity Building of Political Administration on Juvenile Justice System Ordinance

Child Protection Coordination Unit FATA and Directorate of Social Welfare FATA Secretariat, Peshawar organized two days’ workshop for Assistant Political Agents and Directorate of social welfare staff FATA. The Workshop was held on the 26th and 27th of January, 2017. The main objectives of the workshop included; facilitating the exchange of views with participants, to equip staff of political administration with relevant knowledge and skills regarding child protection with special emphasis on Juvenile Justice System Ordinance 2000 (JJSO), to provide participants with an opportunity to learn about the ordinance and to transform the system into actions. Furthermore, the workshop was meant to engage participants in devising action plans with possible key roles and responsibilities to mainstreaming JJSO 2000 into FATA.

During the workshop SPARC’s Mr. Jahanzeb Khan with the support of Co-trainer Mr. Akbar Ali Shah conducted sessions based on the UNCRC, Juvenile Justice System Ordinance, child Protection and coordination mechanism in FATA. Brainstorming, lectures, group discussions, Group works, and Role Play were also a part of the activities of the interactive workshop. SPARC’s IEC materials, such as the Sate of Pakistan’s Children Report and other material related to child rights and child protection was also distributed among participants.

SPARC’s Street Children Cricket Team from Hyderabad Reaches Semi-Final of Sindh Games, Sprinters Bag 6 Gold Medals

The SPARC’s Center for Street Children cricket team from Hyderabad reached the semi-final of the Sindh Games. Additionally, SPARC’s street children team received 6 gold medals, which included medals won by 4 girls and 2 boys in 800, 400, 200 and 100 meter race categories.

Adding to the joy of the SPARC team; Sonya Rafiq from the SPARC street children’s sports team made her whole batch proud when she bagged the 2nd position in Sindh Games.

These were commendable achievements on behalf of the CSC team and administration, considering this was the first time the Center for Street Children got the chance to participate in any major sporting event.

SPARC Distributes Certificates to 800 Females for Completing Vocational Training

SPARC distributed certificates to 800 females who received vocational training. SPARC is currently implementing a project on early and forced marriages of children, under the Support of Common Wealth of Learning in district Muzaffargarah and Jatoi. The project is aimed and delivering vocational courses to underprivileged girls (aged 14-25).


15-Year Old Disabled Pakistani Artist Honored at Art Festival in USA

The art of expression is a dire necessity that lives within all of humanity. However, finding the right medium to channel our ideas is the challenging part. This is especially relevant for those amongst us who need an outlet to express themselves, those who might suffer from a disability that makes normal life a challenge for them.

Uriel Levitt and Sibtain Junejo are two such spirits who did not allow their shortcomings contain them from pouring out their creativity on canvas.

Coming from two completely opposing backgrounds but finding a medium that joins them in unity, these two keen artists along with other international artists were celebrated at the 12th Annual Art Exhibit ‘Yo Soy, Je Suis, I Am the World’, in the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in Washington, D.C.

Sibtain Junejo, a 15-year-old art enthusiast from Karachi, along with his family attended the event held to further the VSA’s mission. VSA is an international organization that wants to “provide arts and education opportunities for people with disabilities and increase access to the arts for all.”

The exhibit was opened to the public on 17th, November and continued till the end of December, allowing people the opportunity to experience art that shouts out for a unified front.

More Than 200 Child Workers Freed in Crackdown in South India

Nearly 200 child workers, some as young as eight, were rescued from bangle factories in Hyderabad in southern India over the last week, as part of an ongoing crackdown.

Most children rescued were aged between 8 and 14 and came from the poor northeastern states of Bihar, West Bengal and Assam, said officials who are part of "Operation Smile", a national movement to tackle child labor and missing children.

"We are investigating the nexus between the employers and the traffickers," said Swathi Lakra, additional commissioner of police in Hyderabad, who is monitoring the rescue operations.
"In many cases, parents are only too willing to send their children for work, which works well for the traffickers."

Earlier in January, around 200 children, most of them aged under 14, were freed from a brick kiln about 40 km (25 miles) from Hyderabad, capital of Telangana state. Activists said the southern states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh had become hubs for child labor and child trafficking. However, the rescues, carried out as month-long special drives by the police and child rights charities twice a year, have brought the numbers down.

Bangladeshi Law Proposing Child Marriage in 'Special Cases' is a Step Backwards: Charities

Bangladesh will be taking a step backwards in efforts to end child marriage if parliament approves changes to a law which would permit girls below 18 to be married in "special cases", a global alliance of charities said on 12th, January, 2017.

The poor South Asian nation has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, despite a three-decade-old law which bans marriage for girls under 18 and men under 21.

Girls Not Brides, a coalition of more than 650 charities, said Bangladesh's parliament was expected to consider the proposed change to the Child Marriage Restraint Act.

Girls Not Brides in Bangladesh said the proposed change was "alarming" and a step backwards for the country which has reduced child marriage in recent years.


Domestic Child Maid Torture Case Grips the Country

In the absence of laws specifically outlining the rights of domestic workers and banning child domestic labor, many children have fallen prey to abuse and exploitation at the hands of their employers. Tayyaba, a child domestic maid was one such girl, however, a media frenzy has brought her and the plight of child domestic workers in the country to the limelight.

On 29-12-2016 the Center for Street Children’s SPARC team received a message from SPARC’s head office to send a fact finding mission to investigate a case of alleged torture of a domestic child worker in Sector I-8, Islamabad. The girl named Tayyaba was allegedly beaten by her employer, who is a serving session court judge.

The Center for Street Children manager and social mobilizer reached the house of the accused offender, Raja Khurram (Session Judge) at 11:00 am. After talking to the housemaid the team was informed that Mr Khurram was on duty, whereas her wife was unwilling to speak to the SPARC team.
After the non-cooperation of the wife of Mr Khurram, the team contacted Police Head Constable to further investigate the matter. He informed the SPARC team that the girl had not been seen for the past 5 days and the details were therefore sketchy.

The team then turned to people in the neighborhood in the hope to gather more details regarding Tayyaba. On condition of anonymity, some people in the neighborhood informed the SPARC team that Tayyaba is 10 years old. She has been working at Mr Khurram’s house for the last year as a domestic child worker and that she belongs to Daira Ghazi Khan. The team was told that Mrs. Khurram had beaten the girl with the help of her other two maids upon suspicion of theft in the house.

Tayyaba was punished on this pretext and deprived of food for 4 days. She was also kept on the terrace without any quilt and left in the cold. The neighbor reported that they heard her weeping from the terrace, and upon asking her learned that she was wounded and hungry. The neighbors gave her some food and a quilt. They helped her for four days, after which she disappeared from the terrace on the fifth day.

The CSC team informed head office SPARC about the facts, and the Crisis Center was contacted. After close coordination of SPARC with the Crisis Center, the girl was recovered (on the second attempt of recovery).

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has taken Suo Moto notice, and the case is currently ongoing in court. Meanwhile, Tayyaba has been sent to Sweet Homes.

13 Year Old Raped in Hyderabad – Local People Complaint of Non-Cooperation of Police

In a recent incident, a minor girl was allegedly raped in Hyderabad, in the village of Bachal Sulangi. A fact finding team was sent by SPARC to investigate the incident. The following is based on the details obtained by SPARC’s fact finding mission, which included the organization’s leading child rights activists in Sindh, Kashif Bajeer and Zahid Thebo.

According to the information gathered by SPARC’s team, the 13 year old girl went to her uncle’s house to take a bath in the morning, where a 20 year old boy who lived nearby trespassed into the house and raped her. The girl was alone in the house, hence no one from her immediate family could save her from the assailant.

The alleged perpetrator is Sajo Sulangi, the son of an employee of the Regional Commissioner Office, Mirpurkhas, Noor Muhammad Sulangi. The local police is currently not cooperating with the victim’s family and the FIR (First Investigation Report) filed by the police has been deemed as unsatisfactory by the victim’s family.

According to Mr Bajeer, the local people have condemned the actions of the local police, which is reluctant to cooperate with the victim as the alleged perpetrator belongs to an influential family. The medical checkup has been delayed more than 4 days, which has already weakened the victim’s case. While the police has produced a document claiming that a medical test was sanctioned (document included with this report), there have been delays on behalf of the local police based on various frivolous excuses, to delay the medical checkup.

Child Domestic Maid Allegedly Burned & Molested by Employer

A child domestic servant allegedly suffered horrendous abuse at the hands of her employer (Malik Asif) in Gujranwala. To determine the details regarding this incident SPARC sent an investigative team. While there have been discrepancies in media reports and the First Information Report (FIR) acquired by SPARC, the below mentioned information is based on the findings of our fact finding mission.

According to the First Information Report (FIR) the girl is 16-17 years old, and belongs to Sialkot. This is different from various media reports, which suggest that the girl is 12-14 years old. According to our investigative team, the latter seems more appropriate, as the girls seems to be somewhere around 14-15 years of age.

Rukhsar claims she slipped carrying a heavy bowl of hot water that was meant for preparing a bath for Mrs Asif. This version of the stated event is different from what the media initially reported. Earlier, information gleaned by the media suggested that here mployer, Mr Asif allegedly threw steaming hot tea on her face as Rukhsar failed to bring him tea on time.

The fact finding missions sent by SPARC has learned that Rukhsar claims that Mr Asif and his brother subject her to regular physical and sexual abuse. She has also complained of sleep deprivation, as she is too scared to sleep at night. In fact, she has cited this as one of the reasons she slipped when carrying the hot bowl of water. Regardless of the cause, what has been ascertained is that the minor girl suffered horrendous burns and was rushed to DHQ hospital, where medical examination revealed that the housemaid was not only tortured and burnt but she was also raped.

For now, an FIR has been filed against the accused, and Rukhsar has been handed over to the Child Protection Department. Police have arrested two accused, Imran and Ayyaz, while the main accused Asif is still at large. On 26th, January, 2017, a local court ordered DNA test of the accused to ascertain who is responsible for the alleged rape of the minor housemaid.

6 Year Old Girl Found Nearly Lifeless in Drain

A 6 year old girl was recovered from a drain tunnel near Korangi Crossing, in almost lifeless condition, with deep knife cut on throat and on both the hands. The girl was brought back to Civil Hospital Karachi, where doctors conducted 2 operations to save her life.

According to doctors, the girl’s throat was cut from two ends. Her body was found with severe injuries of torture. It has been confirmed that she was raped during the terrible incident.

Major Findings by SPARC Team:-
The girl has been sexually abused, and a vague FIR has been lodged against unknown assailants. The police is yet to make any arrests. There is a fear of the case becoming insignificant due to the negligence of concerned law enforcement officials.

Sindh Assembly Passes Child Labor Prohibition Bill

Pakistan's Sindh province has banned children under 14 from working, becoming the third region to limit child labor in a country where millions of minors work in sectors from brick making to carpet weaving, farming to mining. The Sindh Assembly unanimously passed a bill against employment of children below the age of 14, making child labour an offence punishable with prison term and fine.

Under new legislation which came into effect on Thursday, offenders face six months of imprisonment and a fine of up to 50,000 rupees ($477). They risk tougher penalties in cases where children do dangerous jobs or are forced into prostitution, pornography and slavery.

"Due to appalling socio-economic conditions, children under the age of 14 are forced to work in factories, industries, fields and other hazardous areas," said senior Sindh minister Nisar Khuhro, who introduced the bill.

Pakistan's Labour Force Survey 2014-15 showed that of those children aged between 10 and 14 years active in child labor, 61 percent were boys and 88 percent came from rural areas.

Sindh Passes Law to Ban Corporal Punishment for Children

Corporal punishment or any other humiliating or degrading treatment to children by any person in all its forms has been prohibited in Sindh by a law passed by the provincial assembly on 31st, December, 2017.

Under the bill, which was tabled by Mehtab Akbar Rashdi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, protection has been given to children against punishments to cause pain or discomfort by hitting, smacking, slapping, spanking, kicking, shaking or throwing child, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears or forcing child to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scalding or forced ingestion by any person in the family and workplace, in schools and other educational institutions including formal, non-formal, religious, both public and private, child care institutions including foster care, rehabilitation centres and other alternative care settings and in the juvenile justice system.