Collective approach needed for tackling child abuse: minister
Marriyum says special committee on child protection examining how existing laws can be improved
Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb on Tuesday called for collective efforts to tackle the problem of child abuse in the society.
Speaking as chief guest at a workshop ‘Child Protection Case Management and Referral System in Pakistan’ organised by UNICEF, she said that it was imperative to adopt a collective approach by media, civil society and other stakeholders for tackling the problem and changing social attitudes.
She said that media has the obligation to report and unveil incidents like that of Kasur, but it also has to fulfill its corporate social responsibility for creating awareness for prevention of such incidents.
The minister, who is also chairperson of National Assembly’s Special Committee on Child Abuse, praised Baluchistan and Gilgit Baltistan assemblies for enacting flagship, holistic and comprehensive legislation for child protection in their respective provinces. Such legislation not only showed that the government was serious and committed to overcome the problem but it also inspired confidence among the people, she added.
In Pakistan, she said, in most cases good laws exist but problem lies in their effective implementation. The minister said that Zainab and Asma cases were highlighted by the media but countless such cases remained unreported.
She said that Zainab and Asma cases have became eye-opener for the society and all the assemblies started working on child protection laws.
Marriyum Aurangzeb said that a special committee on child protection had been constituted by the Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq which would present its recommendations within 30 days after thorough consultations with all the stakeholders. The
committee was examining the laws, legal frameworks and regulations for effecting improvement in them, she said.
The minister said that prosecution area was the most important part as in many cases the parents had to run from pillar to post for getting the case registered.
She said that Zainab and Asma were being treated as case studies and the Punjab government was assisting the committee to check what problems were faced by the parents of the victims particularly in registration of cases.
The minister said that the committee would also include the input of the civil society and other stakeholders in its recommendations.
Marriyum said that there was also a need to include the subject of child protection in the curricula to create timely awareness among the children and parents as well.
She said that the Punjab government had launched an information technology based system and a forensic lab had been established which could also be helpful to other provinces.
The minister thanked international partners for their support and contribution in fighting the scourge of child abuse and provision of data regarding best practices at the world level. She also lauded UNICEF for its contribution in health and education sector, provision of data and its help in capacity building.
She also appreciated the role and contribution of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and National Commission on the Status of Women for child protection.
Marriyum said that Article 35 of the Constitution called for protection of mother and child and the government was striving to take concrete steps in that regard.
She said that under the 18th Amendment, the provinces had become more empowered and they were also doing legislation for the resolution of their local problems and issues.
She said that the federal government was ready to provide all possible support and facilitate them to fulfill their responsibilities in this connection.
She said that Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) task force was working for child protection issues at both the federal and provincial levels. It was providing data and equipment to the legislators in their respective assemblies, she added.
The minister said that SDGs task force was the brain-child of Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Pakistan had become the first and only country to have a full-fledged secretariat of SDGs. APP