SPARC organizes E-Commerce training workshop

Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) held a training workshop in Islamabad in collaboration with Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) for its staff employed in various projects across Pakistan. The workshop was conducted in part by Ms. Falak Raja from the Pakistan Center for Philanthropy (PCP) and Mr. Omer Imran from SPARC. The training focused on the basic concept of commerce and its application via different online sources. The training would help make aware SPARC’s project staff on different aspects of E- Commerce and its applicability on enhancing outcomes of current projects being run by the organization.

SPARC holds meeting with IG Police Islamabad

Executive Director SPARC, Ms. Sadia Hussein along with Program Development Manager, Ms. Asiya Arif and Regional Manager-Sindh, Mr. Kashif Bajeer held a meeting with Inspector General of Islamabad Police. Matters related to child protection and child rights were discussed with a special focus on the street children of Islamabad. The Inspector General assured his full cooperation sand support for SPARC’s project activities.

Coordination meeting between child rights organizations and Sindh Police

A coordination meeting between various child rights organizations, government departments and Sindh police was organized in Hyderabad, Sindh. The focus of the meeting was to improve the coordination mechanism and referral system between child rights organizations and the police to better facilitate children especially those who are victims of violence.

It was also decided during this meeting that SPARC in collaboration with Civil Society Support Program (CSSP) will initiate capacity building programs and trainings on child related laws for Sindh police in Hyderabad.

CRM-Sindh Chapter organizes press conference on child kidnappings in Sindh

Member from different child rights organizations including Mr. Kashif Bajeer, Mr. Zahid Thebo, Mr. Khalid Babar and Mr. Ali Mujtaba organized a press conference in Hyderabad under the banner of the Child Rights Movement (CRM)-Sindh chapter. The focus of the conference was to apprise the media and the general public about the recent surge in child kidnappings across Sindh and Punjab. Mr. Kashif Bajeer stated that the government has failed to provide any protection to children in the province due to which parents have stopped sending their children to school in fear of these kidnappings. CRM members also lamented about the fact that besides the presence of the Child Protection Unit across various districts in Sindh, no concrete data was available on the number of children kidnapped. Mr. Zahid Thebo further stated the CRM plans to launch an awareness campaign across Sindh and will distribute pamphlets to apprise parents of the situation of kidnappings and protection mechanisms in place for their children.

Children in Punjab fall below international health standards

Eight per cent of Pakistani children die before they reach the age of five, giving Pakistan the highest child mortality rate in South Asia. Height and weight for children in this age bracket are also low as compared to the worldwide average.

Collecting more precise evidence on the key determinants of poor health outcomes in Pakistan, particularly those that can be influenced by policy, is of utmost importance for policy makers revealed a research conducted by the Lahore School of Economics.

In order to address these issues, the research evaluated heights, weights and mortality rates of children in Pakistan and found that factors such as income, education, sanitation, water and access to primary care facilities were key determinants of child health. The researchers found that the average four year old Punjabi boy is 6.3 centimeters (2.48 inches) shorter than the international norm.

The research found that the mother’s education level was also one of the key determinants of the health status of children. The child mortality rate was recorded at 3.3% in households where the mother was somewhat educated in comparison to 8% mortality rate in households where mothers were illiterate.

The degree of the family’s wealth/financial status directly correlated to the health of a child; as the family’s wealth increased, the health indicators of the child improved drastically. This shows that an important role of the government would be to mitigate inequalities in income by forming a public policy that equalizes outcomes between social classes and flattens the relationship between income and health.

Interestingly, the presence of a public curative health facility was not found to be correlated with better health in this research. According to the results, 88% people who seek medical help go to private sector, while only 7% go to a public hospital. Moreover, only 2% go to primary facilities and 16% do not seek any care for health problems.

Anti-polio drive: 3.64m children to be vaccinated in KP

The coordinator of the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) Mr. Akbar Khan stated that a three-day anti-polio campaign will be initiated starting August 29th , 2016 to inoculate children in 13 high risk districts against polio.

Children of up to five years of age would be immunized in all 604 union councils and 67 camps of Internally Displaced Person (IDPs) and Afghan refugees situated in these districts.

Mr. Akbar said that during this campaign, a total of 3,644,000 children would be vaccinated, adding that 12,059 teams of trained health workers have been formed for this purpose who would be supervised by 2,643 area in-charges.

He said that KP government is fully committed to eliminate the menace of polio from the province and despite several challenges; considerable decline has been noticed in polio cases in KP.

Under the direction of KP Health Secretary, Mr. Muhammad Abid Majeed, a comprehensive micro plan has been chalked out for the success of the three-day anti polio campaign.

He maintained that the campaign will start in eight districts which will include Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Mardan, Swabi, Swat, Kohat, Karak, Hangu, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, DI Khan and Tank.

He said that out of 12,059 teams, 10,438 are mobile teams, 921 fixed teams, 592 transit teams and 108 roaming teams. Giving a district-wise breakdown, Mr. Akbar stated that 2,230 teams will work under 148 area in-charges in Peshawar, who will immunize 833,000 children.

Children As Young As Five Accused Of Sexual Offences At Schools

 Children as young as five have been accused of carrying out sexual offences at school while victims as young as four have also been targeted.
The number of sex crimes reported in UK schools has nearly trebled in four years from 719 in 2011-12 to nearly 2,000 in 2014-15, with rape, child prostitution and sexual grooming all recorded.

Children’s charity Plan International UK, who got the figures using the Freedom of Information Act, said the findings are “alarming” and demanded the Government makes relationship education compulsory to tackle aggressive sexual behavior.

Lucy Russell, a UK girls’ rights campaign manager, told the Press Association that they are very concerned about these findings but sadly not really shocked because they have heard time and time again from girls in the UK that sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools is quite commonplace.

In England, boys and girls as young as five were accused of carrying out sexual offences, while the youngest alleged victims were also five-years-old. This included a five-year-old girl who was accused of sexual assault on a boy under 13, and a five year-old boy who was accused of sexual activity involving a girl under 13.

In Wales, the youngest alleged victim of a sexual offence was just four, although no details of the allegation or the child’s gender were given. Welsh police also investigated claims a five-year-old boy had sexual activity with a five-year-old girl.

The investigation also found the number of allegations of sexual crimes reported at schools has soared from 719 in 2011-12 to 1,955 in 2014-15 – an average of 10 each school day.

In total some 4,643 sexual offences were reported at UK schools during the four years. Nearly a third (29%) of the alleged crimes over the four years are thought to be committed by pupils, while school staff - including teachers - are behind 15% of the allegations, according to the charity.

Child soldiers being recruited by armed forces becoming a 'nightmare', warns UNICEF.

Children in South Sudan face the imminent danger of being forced to become soldiers as the possibility of a civil war looms over the young nation. The warning from UNICEF comes after the government rejected the UN Security Council's proposal of deploying 4,000 additional troops for peacekeeping efforts in conflict-hit Juba.

The UNICEF stated that more than 650 children have been recruited by armed groups since the start of the year. According to the Associated Press, another UN document revealed that a senior politician in President Salva Kiir's administration allegedly oversaw the recruitment of children as young as 12 into the armed forces.

Reports claimed that an entire village was coerced to let children take up arms or their cattle, the main source of income for people living in the region would be confiscated.

Deadly clashes between forces loyal to Kiir and rebels claimed the lives of at least 300 people in July 2016, despite the peace deal signed in August 2015. Reports suggest that more than one in five people from South Sudan's 11 million people fled their homes because of the ethnic war.

Since the crisis in the East African nation first began in December 2013, an estimated 16,000 children have been recruited by armed groups, despite government factions promising to end the practice. It is believed that the fear of renewed clashes could put tens of thousands of children at a bigger risk of becoming soldiers.