Civil Society Organizations, working under the umbrella of Children Advocacy Network- CAN Pakistan gathered in Lahore from 18 districts of Punjab for a consultative workshop jointly arranged by National Commission for Human Rights and CAN Pakistan, where they demanded effective legislative and administrative actions to end all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation.
The participants reiterated long-awaited demand for expediting the process of approving child protection policy and action plan to channelize the coordinated efforts for making it reality that all children are safe, secure and protection from all forms of violence and abuse.
CAN Pakistan proposed government of the Punjab to approve the Child Protection policy followed by the allocation of financial and human resources to bring the commitments into actions, enactment of legislation and a robust monitoring system to prohibit corporal punishment in educational institutions, effective implementation on child labour laws by strengthening social protection schemes and programs.
CAN Pakistan showed concern on delay in implementation of “The Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019” whose section 3 is prohibiting employing children under the age of 15 years for domestic work, and demanded Chief Minister Punjab to constitute a committee to evaluate the progress of this particular law and to make necessary amendments for securing the best interest of the children.
CAN Pakistan also proposed to include the topic of online safety in mandatory curriculum with a view to empower children for using internet and social media with responsibility and without any fear to be exploited.
The representatives of Civil Society Organizations proposed government of the Punjab to establish child protection services in all districts of Punjab, CSOs also suggested to notify child protection committees, till the availability of Child Protection services in all districts.
So the survivors of violence, abuse and exploitation can be guided and facilitated in a dignified manner which will not only be ensuring the access to justice of victims but will be linking the survivors with available services for their rehabilitation. CAN Pakistan’s spokesperson Rashida Qureshi in particular draw the attention of government and National Commission for Human Rights towards enactment of pending legislation to establish case management and referral system in Punjab.
Enactment of the law which can systemize the provision of services to children in difficult circumstances should be the top priority for Punjab Assembly, said by Ms. Qureshi. CAN Pakistan’s member from Rajanpur and Dera Ghazi Khan shared that due to flood situation along with adult community members children are also major affectee of this situation.
The humanitarian crises put the children and other vulnerable segments at risk so it is needed that Government representatives, as well as local and international organizations, to act for establishing functional and reliable child protection systems that can prevent and respond to child protection concerns at all phases of humanitarian action.
In particular, to establish effective mechanisms to prevent and respond to child abuse, neglect, exploitation, and violence during emergencies.Mr. Nadeem Ashraf Member/ Commissioner National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) appreciated the contribution of CAN Pakistan to deal with the widespread issue of Child Abuse.
He added, while concluding the proceeding of the workshop, that being state’s National Human Rights Institute dealing with the issues of marginalized segments in key priority of NCHR.
He shared that in recent incidents of violence against children in which a 12 years old child was murdered by their employers, NCHR took the cognizance in that case and still the commission in monitoring the case to make it sure that the victim family gets the justice. He emphasized the need of mass level awareness camping to educate parents, community members, teachers and other notables of the community with an aim to create safer society for children. He also mentioned to train children and young people on responsible usage of internet and social media to overcome the challenge of online abuse and exploitation. Inclusion of strategies to use social media in a safe way in curriculum will lead towards improving the protection of children in online spaces, said by Mr. Ashraf.