The idea of SPARC Child Rights Committees came about during the district level consultations on child rights held by SPARC in the early years of its establishment. Participants at these consultations felt a need to follow up on what was discussed and carry out activities to achieve the goal of promoting child rights in the respective regions. Consequently, in 2000, SPARC decided to establish Child Rights Committees (CRC) in the districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (earlier NWFP). Later on these committees were established in Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan.
To date, Child Rights Committees are active in 54 districts as voluntary groups of activists who independently follow up on child rights related issues in their districts.
The CRCs have worked closely with SPARC on a number of issues including child rights, child labour, juvenile justice, violence against children, bonded labour as well as during humanitarian crises.
Members of child rights committees include teachers, lawyers, journalists, social activists, members of local government etc., who regularly meet and review and plan their activities in the district. In collaboration with the CRCs and like minded civil society organisations, SPARC hopes that the promotion and protection of child rights will become a social movement with increased sustainability.
Responsibilities of the CRCs include:
- To act as a focal point for all child rights issues in the district
- To arrange legal aid for children in conflict with the law
- To keep in close contact with officials associated with child rights related work, such as probation department, police labour inspector, education officer and health officials etc.
- To highlight child rights issues in the media, maintaining a close working relationship with elected members
- To carry out investigations and fact finding missions in all incidents involving child rights
- To make monthly visits to the juvenile sections of the jails
- To campaign against corporal punishment in schools and violence in general against children
- To campaign against child domestic labour
- To report child rights violation to SPARC, the federal and provincial governments and officials concerned
- To build pressure on the government to enact laws related to child protection
- To develop linkages with parliamentarians
- To deliver lectures in educational institutions on CR and PC, in their respective regions
Since January 2009, CRCs were included in the Civil Society Strengthening (CSS) programme after restructuring of SPARC.