Seminar on child labor organized in Sindh

A seminar titled ‘A Child Employed is a Future Destroyed’ was organized in Karachi by the Child Rights Movement (CRM) Sindh chapter in collaboration with SPARC and the Ministry of Labor and Man Power, Sindh. The seminar focused on the increasing incidences of child labor and the status of existing/pending legislation regarding child protection across the province. The first part of the seminar focused on a panel discussion of existing gaps in current child protection mechanisms and their enforceability. The panellists included Ms. Sadia Hussein (Executive Director, SPARC), Mr. Anees Jillani (Supreme Court Advocate), Mr. Zia Awan (Renowned legal expert), Mr. Iqbal Detho ( Chil Rights Expert), Ms. Dr Farah Iqbal ( Professor) and Mr. Zahid Manzoor from UNICEF.

The second part of the seminar focused on initiatives of the provincial government in tackling the issue of child labor and child protection in the province. In this regard, Secretary Labor, Sindh, Mr. Abdul Rasheed Solangi was invited on stage to present the government’s viewpoint regarding the aforementioned issues. He stated that there has been no official child labor survey in the province to ascertain the number of child laborers in the province, yet he estimated that around 5-6 million children might be engaged in some form of labor. He reiterated the provincial governments resolve to tackle the issue of child labor and ensure every child goes to school as per the legislation on free and compulsory education. Moreover, the government plans to undertake a child labor survey in the coming year and also sure that children in bonded labor are freed and rehabilitated across the province.

SPARC conducts E-Commerce Training for women in Karachi, Hyderabad, Multan and Peshawar

24 million children still out of schools in Pakistan: UNICEF

According to the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF), approximately 24 million children between the age of five and 16 years are still out of school in Pakistan. The country is part of the list of top 10 countries in the world with the highest number of out of school children which also include Afghanistan, Liberia and Nigeria. Data obtained from government departments reveal that roughly 6.1 million children of primary school-going age are out of school with girls forming two-fifths of the total number of out of school children in the primary age category.

UNICEF’s data analysis on out of school children comes at a time when millions of children return to school and seeks to highlight the extent of the education crises affecting countries already blighted by conflict, prolonged natural disasters and high rates of extreme poverty. Lack of education in these countries will deprive children of the knowledge and skills they would need to contribute to their countries and economies.

Education continues to be one of the least funded sectors in humanitarian aid. In 2015, humanitarian agencies received only 31 per cent of their education funding needs, down from 66 per cent a decade ago. Despite a 126 per cent increase in education requirements since 2005, the funding increased by just four percent.

Moreover, education systems equipped to cope with protracted crises cannot be built on the foundations of short-term and/or unpredictable appeals. Educationists are of the view that though some integral measures have been taken, a great deal more needs to be done by re-focusing efforts towards educational targets across the world.

Pakistan without policy to curtail child mortality rate

Pakistan has the highest child mortality rate in the world as nearly 41 out of a 1000 children born succumb to various illnesses due to lack of basic healthcare facilities in the country; yet the government has failed to formulate a policy to curtail child mortality despite several promises made over the years.

Federal Minister for Planning and Development, Mr. Ahsan Iqbal revealed these facts in a roundtable conference in Islamabad on Early Childhood Development in the country. According to Mr. Iqbal, the government is in the process of preparing the National Action Plan for Childhood Development (NAPCD) with an aim to produce better human resources with healthier minds. However, this initiative is still a concept and will take time in being rolled out nationally.
According to the Pakistan’s Demographic and Health Survey 2012-13, around 45 percent of children show evidence of chronic malnutrition or stunting, which is the third highest percentage of stunted children in the world.

Speaking at the event, Dr Shehla Zafar, a clinical psychologist in the University of Punjab, shared that in her view, it is the mother who suffers the most as she not only loses her child but is also blamed for its death by family members, which has severe implication on the mental well-being of women.

Newly leaked Nauru reports detail harrowing accounts of sexual abuse and self-harm

Child and adult refugees held on Nauru under Australia’s offshore detention regime are continuing to report allegations of sexual abuse and engage in self-harm.  The new incident reports include a harrowing account of the alleged rape of a refugee, who refused to report the encounter to Nauruan police. The reports also tell of children stubbing out cigarettes on their arms, trying to jump off buildings and attempting suicide by other means.

The reports make reference to ‘ongoing, significant risks’ to children held on Nauru between January and March this year. Mr. Peter Dutton, Australia’s immigration minister has sought to diminish the 2,116 leaked reports that contain accounts of self-harm, abuse and sexual assault in the offshore centre  as ‘hype’ but stated that the government would investigate them.

The new reports include a number of serious allegations of self-harm by children. In one report from February, a child refugee under 15 years of age tried to jump off the balcony of his home in an attempt to kill himself. In another report, a refugee girl aged 10 years of age had disclosed ‘thoughts of walking in front of moving traffic’. She told the casework manager that the reason for this related to the lack of activities available in Nauru and her dislike of school. She also stated she was experiencing difficulty sleeping and intense feelings of fear, which she identified commenced upon her entry into detention.

In another report, a refugee said she had been spat on and repeatedly sexually harassed at a restaurant she managed in the Nauruan community. The woman told a caseworker how on numerous occasions, men of Nauruan appearance requested that she engage in sexual intercourse with them in exchange for money.

PNG children subjected to all forms of violence

Papua New Guinean children are subjected to various forms of violence including physical, emotional and sexual harm reveals a report by Save the Children. ‘The Child Protection System in Papua New Guinea ‘study was carried out by Save the Children which revealed that 70 per cent of children in the country experience emotional/ physical abuse, and roughly 50 percent of the total are subjected to sexual abuse.

According to the report, children are also susceptible to exploitation, child labor and various harmful traditional practices such as early marriage along with gender-based violence.

The research, carried out over six months, was held in Central, NCD, Morobe, Autonomous Region of Bougainville and East Sepik of Papua New Guinea. There is very limited knowledge and understanding of the people on the current child protection system in place and no child interviewed during the course of the research had any idea such a system existed.

Most child protection issues are either not reported or are dealt within the family and /or the community with no regard for children’s rights. Though there is legislation present regarding the protection of children, there is very little knowledge amongst the population of its existence. Moreover, government departments are not adequately trained and equipped to handle cases of children subjected to violence in the country.