A parliamentary panel was informed that 3,445 cases of child sexual abuse were registered in 2017, out of which 60 percent cases were of female children.
A meeting of the Senate Special Committee on the issue of increasing incidents of child abuse was held here on Tuesday. Ministry of Human Rights and National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR) briefed the committee regarding the child abuse situation in Pakistan. Nuzhat Sadiq convened the committee.
Officials of ministry informed the committee members that under the 18th amendment, the subject of minors/children had been transferred to provinces, which has made monitoring difficult, since provinces in most cases fail to provide adequate data. Lack of funds is another reason.
Deliberating upon the cases in Punjab, where the percentage of such incidents is 67, the highest in the whole country, Senator Sitara Ayaz questioned the reason for rise in cases in Kasur and said that it is imperative to conduct a survey to get to the root cause. She stressed the need for implementation of laws.
Senator Sherry Rehman was of the view that this is an extremely important issue and the data mentioned here is just the tip of the iceberg. This matter, she said, merits seriousness. She stated that in the Zainab murder case, public hanging was not feasible because both the Supreme Court and the Federal Shariat Court have termed any such action a violation of Article 14. She said Pakistan would also risk revoking of its GSP+ status.
Senator Muhammad Ali Khan Saif said that it is imperative for the government and the civil society to initiate a consultative and interactive process to ensure children’s protection. He stressed the need to consolidate all available data on human rights and chalk out TORs so that focus is maintained. He further stated that for things to move forward, it is imperative that members of the committee intervene when and where needed rather than leaving everything to the government.
Senator Rana Maqbool stated that the Child Protection Bureau operating under the government of Punjab is the best model and must be replicated in the rest of the country.
While deliberating upon drawbacks in preventing such cases and taking culprits to task, the local police station system was termed a major impediment. It was asserted that this system needs to be addressed at the earliest.
The committee recommended that a course on child protection must be included in the school syllabi. Sensitization of teachers on this issue should be stressed as well. It was asserted that parliamentarians should form small committees to spread awareness about the issue. It was suggested that village councils must be activated for this purpose.