Lahore - The Child Protection and Welfare Bureau has been unable to hold the meeting of its board of governors for the past seven years, though the cases of underage employment, child abuse, housemaid tortures and eventual deaths has surged.
Child Protection and Welfare Bureau’s job include intercepting cases related to child protection like Irum, 10, and Fiza, 15, – the housemaids who were tortured to death. The Bureau held two board meetings since its inception in 2004. The last board of governors met in 2007 under former Punjab CM Pervaiz Ellahi.
The board consists of 11 representatives of related departments and public representatives, with the CM as the patron-in-chief. It carries critical responsibilities of taking steps for establishment funds in the manner for carrying out the purposes of the Bureau; to establish, manage and recognise child protection institutions; to exercise control over child protection institutions and look after the operation and maintenance of all essential services provided in the institutions; to regulate affairs of child protection institutions; to arrange; to supervise prosecution of persons accused of offences created under this Act; to sell or dispose of assets, movable or immovable, of the bureau in the manner as may be determined by the Board; to appoint and authorise employees with the designations and the terms and conditions as the Board may determine; to authorise spending from the Fund; to delegate any of these powers and functions to a Member, Members, official or officials of the bureau and more.
Not holding board meeting since 7 years not only puts a question on to who has been authenticating functionality of the bureau since the last meeting but also exposes the seriousness of the current government on youth.
Among other shortcomings of the bureau, is it’s poor recognition in the public. There seems to be a vacuum between public and the bureau. No campaigns have been conducted by the CPWB to elevate its image and mechanism in the masses, for real-time rescues.
The best example might be the Child rescue helpline- ‘1121’ which has been operational since 2005 and has been working 7-days a week, 24/7, but has almost zero recognition in the masses. The purpose of this helpline is to generate complaints and leads on child abuse from the public for the CPWB to intervene and rescue children like the deceased children.
When contacted, CPWB Chairperson of Saba Sadiq, said she had assumed charge recently and did not know about any BOG meeting before her. “I have no idea of pervious BOG meetings but there have been none after I’ve assumed the charge as chairman”, she said. While agreeing on the gap between the bureau and the public, she said: “We are all set to introduce mass awareness campaigns.”
This is how the CPWB defines cruelty to children – Whoever, not being a parent, having the actual charge of or control over a child, wilfully assaults, ill-treats, neglects, abandons or exposes him or causes or procures him to be assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed or negligently fails to provide adequate food, clothes or medical aid or lodging for the child in a manner likely to cause such child unnecessary mental and physical suffering, will be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees or with both.