LAHORE: Civil society organisations have urged the government for the implementation of available laws to ensure the protection of women, children and other marginalised groups.
Addressing a seminar arranged by Child Advocacy Network (CAN) Pakistan, Search For Justice and Awaz Foundation, titled “Legislative Development for Protection of Women, Children and Transgender People” at a local hotel on Tuesday, Awaz Foundation Pakistan CEO Ziaur Rehman shared a detailed overview of the legislation enacted during the past 10 years to protect the rights of women, children, persons with disabilities and transgender persons. He particularly highlighted the establishment of The National Commission on the Status of Women and The National Commission for Human Rights as important landmarks in moving towards establishing an independent mechanism to oversee the human rights situation in the country. He also highlighted the incorporation of Article 25-A in the Constitution of Pakistan under which free and compulsory education was recognised as the basic right of every child between the ages of 5 to 16 years.
All provincial governments have done all that is necessary to ensure free and compulsory education in their provincial jurisdictions, he said, adding that there is still a need in Punjab to frame the rules of The Punjab Free and Compulsory Education Act 2014 to ensure its effective implementation. He appreciated the last Punjab Assembly for passing of The Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act 2016 besides a number of challenges. He urged the new Punjab government to cover the whole province of Punjab by notifying this particular law for the whole province.
“Right now this is notified for Multan only,” he said.
Zia also shared an analysis of commitments made by leading political parties to protect the rights of women, children and other marginalised groups.
Search For Justice Executive Director Iftikhar Mubarak also appreciated the previous government for the passing of The Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act 2016 and The National Commission on the Rights of Children Act 2017.
He urged the federal government to expedite the process for the establishment of this commission which will serve as an oversight body to monitor child rights situation in Pakistan. Mubarak particularly highlighted the need for formulation of child protection policy followed by a concrete and realistic action plan to end all forms of violence against children. He particularly highlighted the need for ensuring the provision of adequate financial and human resources to implement laws enacted by Punjab Assembly in true letter and spirit.
Human rights lawyer Ahmer Majeed pointed out the need to work for an improved legislative framework on different layers by amending outdated laws with new provisions as well as by enacting laws where there is no law to protect the rights of children.
MPA Sadia Sohail Rana of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) shared that the Punjab government is committed to protecting the rights of marginalised segments of society and soon will announce a roadmap to go ahead in this regard. She highlighted the need for strategic coordination between parliamentarians and civil society to improve the state of children and women rights in Punjab.
Members of Punjab Assembly from different political parties assured their full commitment and support to work for legislation and all other possible measures which include increase in minimum age of marriage of girls from 16 to 18 years, to work for protection of transgender community, increase in resources for secondary education for all children especially girls and formulation of child protection policy as well as for establishment of comprehensive child protection system.
National Commission for Human Rights Provincial Commissioner Kishwar Shaheen Awan also assured the full support of the NCHR as a state institution to promote and protect human rights. She invited civil society organisations to join hands with the commission to work collectively under various themes, especially children with disabilities, violence against women and human rights awareness.