LAHORE: It should be the priority of the government to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation as the state is obligated under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to take all legislative, administrative and other policy measures to address the issue.
This was the crux of the views expressed at the provincial conference on “Setting the way forward to ensure the protection of children from violence” organised by Search For Justice known as Children Advocacy Network- CAN Pakistan with the support of Australian High Commission in Pakistan on Friday.
Child rights activist Iftikhar Mubarik said that conference was aimed at bringing all key stakeholders on one platform to develop strategic consensus to act in a collaborative and coordinated way to deal with the larger issue of violence against children through agreed multi-dimensional interventions.
He said that there is a strong need to initiate capacity building programmes for key stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies with an exclusive lens of child rights and child protection which at the moment is badly lacking. He shared that Search For Justice in collaboration with Australian High Commission is going to pilot a short-term project focusing on uplifting of capacities of relevant government departments, parliamentarians and local government representatives which would be a unique project in its nature in Punjab.
Mubarik said that violence against children cannot be defeated through sectoral interventions alone, it requires coordination of a variety of actors and institutions.
Syed Miqdad Mehdi, legal expert on child rights also highlighted that in the new development agenda Pakistan also pledged Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and target 16.2 requires serious actions from the government to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.
“We must keep children free from violence in their homes, schools and communities so they can reach their full potential.”
Australian High Commissioner Margret Adamson said that child protection is one of our international development priorities.
Chairperson Punjab Commission on the Status of Women Fauzia Viqar said that strengthening the capacities of key stakeholders around child rights and child protection will surely contribute to promotion and protection of child rights.
Minister for Environment Protection Zakia Shahnawaz during her address emphasised that child protection should be the top priority of all political parties as to deal with violence against children is our national goal beyond our party politics.
The minister appreciated the establishment of child safety cell in Sheikhupura and hoped for up-scaling of the same in other parts of the province.
“We must invest in children protection and must increase the allocation of budget to carry out continuous campaigns focusing on behaviour change of public at large toward children. Violence against children is the clear violation of a child’s dignity, which is not acceptable in any way.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2018.
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