KARACHI - The rights of children are being taken as granted in Pakistani society, with the incidents of violence, abuse and torture against them on rise. In the first six months of the current year as many as 2331 cases of violence against children were reported from the different parts of the country. Children are considered amongst the most vulnerable sections of society and protecting them against the violence and abuse considered as the prime responsibility in the civilized societies. However, the situation is quite different in our country.
Madadgaar National helpline is working to eliminate the violence against women and children with support of Plan international-Pakistan. Madadgaar National helpline’s Database documented 2331 incidents of violence against children from January to June, 2012. These cases include all type of corporal punishment, harmful traditional practices such as forced marriages, rape, sodomy, honor killing, torture and other cruel, inhuman and shameful acts.
According to Madadgaar database, in these six months 367 children were murdered, 164 raped, 117 sodomised, and 211 became the victim of torture. As many as 273 children were trafficked, 122 went missing, 136 committed suicide, 91fell prey to Karo-kari (honor killing) and 107 to vani. As many as 226 children were married forcibly. Moreover, 329 kidnapping cases were also reported. This statistics paints a dismal picture of basic children’s rights in Pakistan.
Out of these 2331 cases of violence against children, 203 cases were reported from Balochistan, 382 from Khyber-Pakhtunkhuwa, and 687 from Sindh. Punjab remained foremost with 1059 cases of violence and abuse of children.
The authorities in Pakistan seem frequently unwilling or unable to protect children from abuses, and bring perpetrators to justice which promotes a culture of violence through impunity granted to perpetrators. In order to curb this, Madadgaar is advocating sustained efforts through better training, awareness and sensitization provided to law enforcement officers. In order to truly safeguard human rights, government agencies and civil society organizations must make genuine joint efforts.
The children have the right to survive and the right to be protected from violence and abuse. Children should be treated as human being and they have right to be respected as thinking, feeling beings. All form of violence against children must be forbidden.
Zia Ahmed Awan President Lawyers for Human Rights & Legal Aid said Pakistan has ratified the Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC) and also ratified optional protocols which focus on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
After ratifying the CRC and optional protocols, the State is accountable to evolve effective mechanisms for the purpose of preventing violence against children and providing protection and all required services to the survivors, but unfortunately children’s rights are not recognized at government level and the issue of child protection has not given required attention.
The Madadgaar National Helpline data shows that children are being murdered, raped, abused, trafficked and abducted with impunity which is very clear indication of failure of government in implementing CRC and other national laws to protect children.
Mr. Awan has expressed grave concern over the startling situation of violence against children and demanded that the Government should make a strategy to protect children from all kind of violence and abuses in Pakistan, adding children should receive no less protection than adults.