ISLAMABAD: A two-day national workshop on countering the menace of child abuse was inaugurated here Tuesday bringing together key stakeholders from across the country to discuss and commit to a clear roadmap for the establishment of responsive and coordinated child protection systems.
Hosted by the Government of Balochistan, in collaboration with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Inception Workshop on Child Protection Case Management and Referral System in Pakistan is the first of its kind being held to recommend ways and means to effectively counter the issue of child abuse in the country.
The inauguration session was chaired by Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, who is also the chairperson of the parliamentary special committee on child abuse.
“It is very important that we work collectively to raise awareness amongst communities, especially the vulnerable and those devoid of technology or infrastructure so that they have the confidence to report cases of child abuse,” she said.
It is heartening to note that Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan have taken the initiative to address social challenges with support from international partners, the minister said. “I would like to thank all international partners such as DFID and UNICEF, who have been continuously helping Pakistan by giving us technical support and the review of international best practices in child protection,” she added.
“As part of its corporate social responsibility, I would like to emphasise that media has a very important role not only to highlight an episode or an event but more importantly to address the prevention side of such incidence.
“International partners can help the federal and provincial governments to develop awareness-raising material on child protection for media to broadcast and publish,” Marriyam added.
Speaker of Balochistan assembly, Raheela Durrani said, “I must acknowledge that in Balochistan, a major change came through in the domain of child protection with the introduction of the child protection act in November 2016.”
The objective of the workshop as highlighted by the speakers is to support the creation and strengthening of a protective environment for children in Pakistan, primarily through adopting a systems approach to tackle the issue and gain a common understanding of how the systems should operate.
The speakers emphasised that Pakistan surely needs to break new ground and set itself as a regional leader in establishing a public coordinated child protection case management and referral system to prevent and respond to cases of child abuse.