islamabad - The human rights activists have urged the federal government to enact the long-pending National Commission on the Rights of Children Bill and the Child Protection (Criminal Laws) Amendment Bill urgently.

While staging a protest in front of National Press Club, the representatives of various nongovernmental organisations working for child rights warned the government that an ostrich approach is not going to work anymore and the government should accept the reality and take effective steps for the prevention of child sexual abuse in the country.

Over the recent child sexual abuse scandal reported from Kasur, which has shook the entire nation, they expressed their strongest condemnation of this grave child rights violation as well as of the shocking number of other child sexual abuse cases surfacing in the past couple of years from across the country.

Presenting a set of demands from the platform of Child Rights Movement — a coalition of over 200 NGOs and experts working for the protection and promotion of child rights in Pakistan –- Arshad Mehmood called for immediate protection of the all-important visual, chemical and forensic/DNA evidence.

Child sexual abuse and rape are extremely heinous crimes not just against an individual but against society and the state; thus the survivor’s family must not be pressurised to accept any out-of-court settlement/compensation, he stressed.

They demanded that the government of Punjab should take steps to immediately arrest all the perpetrators involved in the rape, sodomy, sexual abuse and production of the pornographic material of hundreds of children, and police and the provincial government representatives should stop putting pressure on the traumatised children and their families regarding lodging FIRs and identification of the accused.

The government must provide free, highest quality surgical, medical and post-trauma psychiatric treatment for the survivors’ rehabilitation and support their families, said Dr Ambreen from Rozan. She also asserted that the media, government, and politicians must respect the victims and their families’ privacy and dignity, by not exploiting them in media-rating wars, or political point-scoring photo opportunities.

The activists also appealed to the print and electronic media to adhere to the media code of ethics they have voluntarily adopted; i.e. no identification, naming or depiction of victims. “The electronic media should devote 5% of airtime to public service messages for awareness raising and sensitisation to change societal attitudes towards women and children, especially child protection from sexual abuse,” they suggested. 

Asking the Punjab government to immediately approve the long-awaited Punjab Child Protection Policy and enact comprehensive child protection legislation, they demanded establishment and strengthening of the child protection system in all the four provinces to prevent growing violence against children including child sexual abuse.