Apart from the already significant psychological plight of women and children caused by life under armed conflict and insecurity, thousands of orphaned children are still vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, discrimination and other forms of violence. According to a survey conducted by Swat Scouts Open Group (SSOG), some 2,000 girls have become orphans and are either living with their relatives or working for rich families.
To protect this vulnerable segment of society, Khpal Kor Foundation is building an orphanage of modern standards for girls.
Khpal Kor Foundation already runs a model orphanage for boys from across Pakistan, which works under the supervision of the SSOG. Over 200 orphaned boys get standardised education with boarding and lodging facilities free of charge there.
Haji Mohammad Ali, the director of Khpal Kor Foundation, told The Express Tribune, “Many girls are living with their relatives but this could be problematic in the long term. They are an equal part of our society and if they are not provided with access to their basic rights, they will invariably become a burden on it.”
When SSOG conducted the survey of newly orphaned children soon after the restoration of peace, the number of girls was enormously high.
“We contacted the government but got no response from them. Finally we started the project ourselves with our own meagre resources. Fortunately, the American people came to our aid as USAID is providing Rs7.9 million channelled through National Rural Support Program. The building will have 14 rooms with every basic facility.” The orphanage will accommodate 200 girls and provide standard education, boarding and lodging facilities at no cost.
However, only a small portion (about 10 per cent) of orphaned girls in Swat will be able to benefit from the facility. “The rest will live with their caregivers, but they also need proper accommodations.
The government needs to do something about it,” Ali said, adding, “A majority of girls are working for rich people who pay them a maximum of Rs600. They are vulnerable to physical and sexual harassment and are generally unsafe there.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2011.
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