Islamabad: The Ministry of Human Rights supported by the European Union has identified key priority areas to create awareness on the prevention, protection and redress of issues related to the rights of the child. On Thursday, 4th July 2019, the Ministry of Human Rights launched an awareness campaign to educate people about Protecting Our Children: Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in Pakistan.
“Safeguarding children is our Islamic duty, our constitutional duty and is in line with our International commitments of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The government through the Ministry of Human Rights is committed to fulfilling obligations to our children”, said Dr. Shireen Mazari, Federal Minister for Human Rights in Pakistan in her speech addressing the esteemed participants of the event.
Ms. Rabia Javeri Agha, Secretary, Ministry of Human Rights while talking to the key stakeholder and participants of the event shared the National Plan of Action for the Rights of the Child. She explained how the ministry has a holistic approach to ensure that the rights of the child are addressed properly. This is primarily done through ensuring prevention, protection, rehabilitation/reintegration, participation and learning mechanisms. The government is interested in creating behavior change through targeted awareness campaigns, enforcing justice and making systemic change through the establishment of institutions i.e. the National Commission on the Rights of the Child.
Reported cases of child abuse increased by 11 percent in the year 2018 compared to 2017, with more than 10 children suffering some form of abuse every day in Pakistan last year. The Protect Our Children initiative aims to inform the public especially families, caregivers and parents about the importance of noticing the signs of child abuse so that children can be protected and supported in order to be taken out of such situations.
Goodwill Ambassador for the Campaign, Shehzad Roy (Sitara -e- Imtiaz) in his speech emphasized the need for such initiatives and also provided insight on how important it is for the Pakistani society to notice the signs that child survivors of abuse and exploitation express silently. “We’ve come leaps and bounds in recent years by successfully advocating for the protection and preventive policies to combat child abuse. It is to be hoped that now millions of children will be saved from abuse. There is however a need for acceptance and ownership by the community and parents in particular” said Roy in his keynote address.
Federal Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR) collaborated with children, the key stakeholder, for legal and policy reforms to enforce child rights across Pakistan, highlighting the positive outcomes of the synergy between the Ministry and children. Participating child representatives (Fariha Zamir and Qaiser Khan ) explained how those laws led to the establishment of pilot child courts in provincial and federal capitals in the country, in collaboration with a visionary judiciary. Towards the end, the children pledged to continue their work with the federal MoHR, combine efforts for juvenile justice reform, legislation, building capacities and developing response mechanisms to contribute to the overarching goal of promoting child rights and ensuring justice for children in the country.
The participants of the event included Ambassadors and dignitaries from various EU countries and UN Agencies as well as INGO, NGOs, Academia and Civil Society Organizations.