ISLAMABAD, August 8: SPARC’s flagship report The State of Pakistan’s Children 2011 was launched in the presence of media and civil society representatives. The report has been published for fifteen years and encompasses all major sectors of child rights including education, health, child labor, violence against children and juvenile justice to name a few.
The report highlights the debilitating state of child rights in the country during 2011 while suggesting recommendations for the government to take appropriate measures for child rights.
Presenting the major findings of the report, research officers Ms. Maheen Shaiq, Mr. Zohair Waheed and Mr. Hamza Hasan of SPARC, shared that various child related issues in the country have been summarily ignored by successive governments. However, there is room for improvement as formative efforts can be institutionalized through political will to protect the rights of children in Pakistan.
Ratification of the Optional Protocol of the UNCRC on Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography, adoption of the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act 2011 and amendments in the Frontier Crimes Regulation 1901 were some of the major achievements in 2011. The challenge however is implementing the above laws at the grass root level. Moreover, bureaucratic delays in the espousal of various children related bills need to be addressed to improve the status of child rights and child protection.
In 2011, floods and militancy in some of the most underdeveloped parts of the country presented new challenges to child rights activists and development organizations working for children. For instance, the floods alone affected 4.8 million people, half of them children (an estimated 500,000 below the age of five). Delays in the emergency response by the government prevented donor organizations from operating independently in the affected areas which caused delays in the transfer of relief aid.
A plethora of issues relating to different forms of violence against children show the dearth of government legislation needed to address them. In 2011, a total of 2,303 instances of sexual abuse were recorded from various parts of the country. The number of acid attacks rose from 65 to 150 in 2011 while latest statistics also reveal that 24% of women between the ages of 20-24 years were married before the age of 18 years in Pakistan. These issues call for a multi-pronged approach that amalgamates educational and awareness initiatives with policy level interventions to counteract culturally and socially entrenched issues relating to child related issues.