Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) launched its annual State of Pakistan’s Children 2013 report on Thursday highlights the dismal state of children’s rights and child protection in the country.
The report provided an annual overview of developments in sector that are of special importance to children including; child rights, juvenile justice, education, health, violence against children and child labour.
According to the report Pakistan is far from reaching its health-related Millennium Development Goals 2015 and education related Education for All (EFA) goals. Throughout 2013, both the education and health sectors remained marred by inadequate resources, corruption and a dismal state of service delivery.
The report findings, presented by SPARC’s Research and Communication Officers Zohair Waheed, Ali Nabi Nur and Maheen Shaiq, stated that in 2013-14, the situation was further compounded with the outbreak of the polio virus in the conflict affected areas of the country and subsequent attacks on health workers who were tasked with administering anti-polio vaccination to the children.
Furthermore, latest estimates reveal that approximately 25 million children of school going age are out of schools. Poor and vulnerable, a large number of these children often end up providing cheap labour to the burgeoning informal sector of the economy in Pakistan.
According to the latest estimates by leading international organizations, there are more than ten million child labourers in Pakistan. The report highlighted that in spite of these shocking figures, successive governments have done little to effectively address the growing menace of underage employment in the country, the report said.
Throughout 2013, no provincial laws on child and bonded labour were passed and the administrative set up to deal with the employment of underage workers remained severely hampered by under staffing, lack of knowledge of child labour legislation and inadequate resources.
The report also revealed that children in Pakistan continued to face institutionalised and criminal forms of violence whereby they were subjected to corporal punishment in homes, schools and places of work, sexual abuse, acid attacks, harmful traditional practices, and involvement in armed conflict.
The report calls for immediate action, both at the levels of government and civil society to address the multifaceted problems that afflict the children in Pakistan. There is also dire need to apprise children of their rights and to mobilise parents and relevant stakeholders to act as a pressure group overseeing the implementation of laws, policies and programs pertaining to child rights and child protection.