PESHAWAR: Da Hawwa Lur, leading the Child Rights Movement KP Secretariat, organised a virtual meeting for its members to have a discussion on the impact and challenges to child rights and protection amid COVID-19.

Da Hawwa Lur CEO Khursheed Bano said that the quarantine measures are hitting children hard. She said the closure of schools and restrictive mobility has disrupted their daily routine. “We can observe the surge in the child abuse cases, exploitation and psychological distress during the lockdown situation which can have far-reaching, long-term negative impact on children. Loss of income and financial droughts among families is increasing child labor, child marriages and violence on children at homes,” said Khursheed Bano.

Imran Takkar, Project Coordinator Group Development Pakistan, continuing the discourse stressed the severity of the issue. He emphasized more on the psychological impact on children under lock down. According to him, a sense of uncertainty and anxiety is prevailing among children as they are unsure about their examinations and recommencement of schools.

Discontent with the working of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Commission, Imran Takkar said that the said responsible legal institution is invisible in playing its mandatory role in the current pandemic situation where children are at risk anywhere. “Further, there is no policy level strategy from KP Elementary and Secondary Education Department for the postponed matric and secondary examinations in the province,” Takkar asserted.

Program Manager of Da Hawwa Lur Shawana Shah stressed the need of ensuring that there is a proper strategy for those children who have contracted COVID-19 and are currently quarantine and isolated from their parents that they are safe, secure and away from all kind of abuses. She also emphasised that KP government should share a separate segregated data of corona affected children, while there is a dire need of an exclusive health care centers for affected children.

Shahida Shah shared that the Ministry of Human Rights is working to collect data of recent child abuse cases during lockdown. CRM KP Chapter can be of great help in data collection, she said.

All CRM members were of the opinion that the government shall take CSOs on board as they are working on grass root level and can highlight issues related to child rights and protection in much effective way. They stressed that the coordination between CSO’s and government is the need of hour to take urgent measures to protect child rights. The choices governments make now are crucial not only to mitigate their issues but to benefit children over the long term, emphasised by all members.