Children at a seminar demanded that their rights be acknowledged and their input be taken in matters concerning them, both in homes and the society.
They were speaking at a seminar “Children rights to participation: Building a Children’s Civil Society”, organized by AGHS Child Rights Unit here at a local hotel on Tuesday. The seminar aimed to create awareness and mobilise public opinion on children’s rights and giving them their due place in homes, schools and communities.
Social activist and Member National Assembly (MNA) Bushra Gohar, Psychologist Zehra Kamal, Centre of Civic Education’s Executive Director Zafarullah Khan and schoolchildren from Lahore, Islamabad, Mansehra, along with their parents and teachers, attended the seminar.
MNA Gohar termed the current education situation an “education emergency” and said that children need to be treated as equal citizens.
Audience was amazed by the pertinent speeches delivered by the young minds, who highlighted the problems being faced by children.
Nayab Arshad from Islamabad said not just the government but parents too deprive their children of basic rights. She said most parents force their children to opt for certain careers, ignoring their interest and capability. She said that mothers giving packaged milk to their newborns instead of breastfeeding is also “in fact a violation child’s rights”.
Nayab said there many children are deprived of their right to education, but neither the government nor the schools are committed to resolve the issue or to improve the standards of education. “No one checks the quality of education being provided by these schools or the facilities provided. The government and the school administrations are only concerned with filling their pockets,” she added.
Mustafa Tanveer from Lahore said, “The problems of children in Pakistan are equal to the collective problems of the entire population.” He said that a new born is just like a “blank slate”, his personality moulds according to the environment he lives in.
Areej Waqas and Asfandyar Khan from Mansehra said the government is not serious about giving children their rights. They said that many children are forced by poverty to work and their futures are forever affected.
They said the government has a list of children’s rights but don’t know how to implement it. They urged parents to help children become organised and responsible citizens and to look after their family members.
Two students, Muhammad Naseer and Fakharul Islam, said that if they he had the chance to run the country for a day, they would dissolve all the assemblies and will run the country according to the “actual Islamic laws”, where everyone will enjoy basic rights, have freedom of speech and punishments would be given without discrimination.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2011.
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