Need stressed to formulate child protection policy

LAHORE: Instead of the knee-jerk reactions of the government over Zainab’s rape and murder, there is a need to formulate a child protection policy followed by its implementation, said human rights activists.

They were speaking at the Lahore Press Club at a press conference on Friday to address the prevailing issue of child abuse in the country. They urged the government to take concrete measures to address the issue.

Lawyer and Human Rights Activist Hina Jillani said that non-prioritising the child protection agenda by the provincial government even after the child sexual exploitation of 2015 was very concerning. She said that it was the time when the Punjab government was in a position to initiate the establishment of an efficient child protection system. She demanded that the chief minister show his seriousness by immediately establishing a task force, which should take all stakeholders onboard, including civil society organisations. “It is not anyone’s fault but everyone’s responsibility to protect children.”

Child rights activist Iftikhar Mubarik urged the government to establish an independent commission on the rights of the child by approving the child protection policy, on the recommendations of Child Rights Protection Committee constituted on the directions of Punjab CM and headed by provincial law minister in 2015 after the Kasur pornography incident.

Punjab Child Rights Movement Provincial Coordinator Rashida Qureshi urged equipping female police officers with investigation skills and said that the cases of violence against women, girls and children must be handed over to female police investigation officers on a priority basis.

Labour rights activist Khalid Malik shared the nexus between child labour and child abuse and said that children who were active in child labour were also on the high risk of child abuse. He proposed to observe 2018 as “The Year of Child Protection” to ensure continuous action by the government.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2018.

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