ISLAMABAD: The International Day for Street Children was commemorated all over the world on April 12 but our government failed to give any commitment with regard to their protection and rehabilitation.
According to government sources, the figure for street children in the country is around 1.5 million although non-government sources estimate the number to be close to 2.5 million. Surveys and interviews conducted by various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) show that an alarming 80 to 90 per cent of street children are victims of sodomy, sexual and physical abuse by not just adults, but also by older children within their own gangs.
A significant number of children on the street are those who have run away from their homes because of domestic violence, corporal punishment, abuse, and poverty. In some cases, bad company, the desire for unrestricted freedom and the pull of the hustle and bustle of cities, prompt them to leave their homes in rural areas and low-income localities of our cities. These children easily become victims of organised criminal gangs, drug pushers and the begging mafias who take them under their wings. Many children also resort to begging and petty crimes on their own.
Pakistan is a signatory to the UN Convention on Rights of Children (CRC) but so far it has not implemented the Convention. Child protection laws exist in the country but they have not been implemented effectively. The government should allocate adequate resources for the implementation of existing child protection laws and introduce further legislation in this regard.
Muhammad Irshad Danish
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2012.
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