|Federal Minister for Social Welfare and Special Education, Samina Khalid Ghurki, seen on the stage at the launch of the National Campaign against Child Abuse.|
By Mohammad Ali Fahim
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, 10 December 2008 – Last month, on Universal Children's Day, Pakistan launched its National Campaign against Child Abuse. The event brought together children, policymakers, social and development workers, diplomats, representatives of UN agencies, civil society organisations and the media.
The launch is being followed by a two-month, nation-wide communication campaign to create awareness about children's protection rights, and the adoption of a National Plan of Action for Children.
"We must not simply look at the litany of hurdles and injustices unleashed upon children, but also devise strategies to address the different forms of child abuse, exploitation, exclusion and other violations of children's rights," said Federal Minister for Social Welfare and Special Education, Samina Khalid Ghurki.
Earlier this year, a UNICEF supported Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) study conducted by the government identified 18 child protection issues needing attention in Pakistan.
A commitment to child rights
UNICEF Representative for Pakistan, Martin Mogwanja, noted that roughly 70 per cent of Pakistani children experience physical and psychological abuse. And that the abuse is not only relegated to the home, but often happens in schools, madrassahs, childcare centres, places of work and entertainment, jails, detention centres and on the streets.
|UNICEF Representative for Pakistan, Martin Mogwanja, seen on stage at the launch of the National Campaign against Child Abuse.|
Mr. Mogwanja sees child abuse as a major contributor to school dropout rates, and to the numbers of children living or working on the streets.
"They run away from the violence and abuse inflicted by those who are expected to care for them, to teach them what is good and to make sure that they grow up and develop," he said.
The National Plan of Action for Children has already been approved by the cabinet, affirming the country's commitment to ensuring children's rights to life, protection and development.
"The Child Protection Bill is ready to be tabled in the parliament after the approval of the policy from the cabinet," said Ms. Ghurki.