Call for responsive, coordinated child protection system in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: A two-day national workshop on countering the menace of child abuse was inaugurated on Tuesday to discuss and commit to a clear road map for the establishment of responsive and coordinated child protection systems.

Hosted by the Government of Balochistan, in collaboration with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Inception Workshop on – Child Protection Case Management and Referral System in Pakistan – is the first of its kind being held to recommend ways and means to effectively counter the issue of child abuse in the country.

The inauguration session was chaired by the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage, Marriyum Aurangzeb, who is also the chairperson of the Parliamentary Special Committee on Child Abuse.

“It is very important that we work collectively to raise awareness amongst communities, especially the vulnerable and those devoid of technology or infrastructure, so that they have the confidence to report cases of child abuse. It is heartening to note that Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan have taken the initiative to address social challenges with support from international partners,” she said.

“As part of its corporate social responsibility, I would like to emphasis that media has a very important role not only to highlight an episode or an event but more importantly to address the prevention side of such incidence. International partners can help the federal and provincial governments to develop awareness raising material on child protection for media to broadcast and publish,” she added.

Balochistan is the only province to have enacted child protection legislation which is completely aligned with the minimum standards set by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a process that was technically supported by UNICEF.

Likewise, the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan has recently approved a Child Protection Bill which is also fully aligned with the UNCRC.

The other provinces are likely to follow suit given the political will and commitment exhibited by their respective governments to tackle the social evil of child abuse.

Speaker of the Balochistan assembly, Raheela Durrani said, “I must acknowledge that in Balochistan, a major change came through in the domain of child protection with the introduction of the child protection act in November 2016.

The act is the first ever child protection specific legislation completely aligned with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

He expressed happiness for holding the workshop on such an important issue that address practical aspects of what has been agreed upon as the course of action for saving our children  from all sorts of threats that endanger them including all forms of violence and exploitation.”

The objective of the workshop as highlighted by the speakers was to support the creation and strengthening of a protective environment for children in Pakistan, primarily through adopting a systems approach to tackle the issue and gain a common understanding of how the systems should operate.

The speakers emphasized that Pakistan surely needs to break new ground and set itself as a regional leader in establishing a public coordinated child protection case management and referral system to prevent and respond to cases of child abuse.

The Deputy Speaker of the Gilgit Baltistan Assembly, Jaffarullah Khan said, “A nations greatness can be judged by the way it treats its children. Like other provinces, Gilgit Baltistan is also facing the issues related to the rights of the child.

Therefore, we have taken some initiatives which include the approval of the child protection response bill 2017. It will be enacted soon.”

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