Roundtable: Call to implement child-specific laws

Published: March 21, 2017
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ISLAMABAD: With reports of two high-profile cases of minors being employed as maids in houses and violence against them, child rights activists and members of the civil society on Monday demanded that the government devise and implement child-specific laws while banning corporal punishments in schools.

During a roundtable discussion on Monday organised by the National Council for Social Welfare and Society for Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) to identify the problems children face in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and discuss possible solutions and a policy framework for the social welfare of children in the capital.

Child rights activist Arshad Mehmood stressed upon the rate of children under five years of age who have not been vaccinated against preventable diseases in Islamabad.

Sadia Husain, the executive director of the SPARC, expressed concerns over the hundreds of street children in Islamabad who are likely to be missed in the on-going national census.

“This will deprive us of knowing the actual number of children who are [living] on the streets and require proper care, education, shelter and protection,” she said.

Rutgers WPF Member Habiba Salman highlighted the need for a dedicated shelter home or crisis centre in the capital where children suffering from violence can be taken cared about.

Participants of the meeting also demanded that ICT administration completely bans corporal punishment in government schools and issue a notification in this regard as soon as possible.

One of the participants pointed to the gross imbalance between students and teachers at government schools such as a school in Sector F-10 where there were only five teachers for 250 children.

Moreover, the participants pointed out that children in the capital lack access to proper, affordable health care facilities. Further, they suffer from transportation problems and are seen sitting on roofs of buses or hanging behind them.

Moreover, under-age driving is rampant on roads not monitored by the traffic police, while child trafficking and drug usage are becoming increasingly common.

Participants of the roundtable demanded that the government pass all pending legislations on child rights and protection, and ensure effective implementation of existing laws.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2017.

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