This is with the reference to recent incidents of Child Sexual Abuse and exploitation of ‘Child Domestic Labour’ in Punjab. It’s a matter of great concern that despite a number of reported incidents of Child Sexual Abuse and other forms of violence against children no legislative action has been introduced by the provincial government as a policy matter to protect the children from exploitation in future. It seems as if all the hue and cry were just for show.

Pakistan signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children (UNCRC) on November12, 1990 and Article 4 of it urges that state shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention. After 18th Constitutional Amendment it is responsibility of provincial government to ensure the legislation for protection of children. Still there is no Child Protection Policy or Provincial Plan of Action for Children which exist at any level. There is no department or statuary body having any mandate to deal with these issues of children holistically. Article 25 (3) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan recognizes special right of protection for children due to their vulnerability.

There is need to establish an independent “Provincial Commission for the Rights of Children” with powers to investigate cases of abuse and violence against children and monitor the implementation of the UNCRC. Additionally, such an independent body should also devise strategies to raise awareness about child rights. There is also a dire need to establish a committee or task force under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Punjab comprising of MPAs from different political parties, officials of relevant government departments, media and representatives of Child Rights organizations to review the child protection issues in Punjab and the legislative actions to ensure the protection of children.

There is need for clarification as to who is the relevant department for looking after these issues related to children as per rules of business? Speaker Punjab Assembly may also constitute a special committee or Caucus comprising of MPAs from all parties having their representation in Punjab Assembly, which will also ensure that voices of the children are been heard at this forum. Government of Punjab must introduce Child Protection Policy without any delay and this policy must come with the financial resources for effective implementation.

IFTIKHAR MUBARIK,

Lahore, September 30.