LAHORE: Prioritisation of child rights was urged by children during a panel discussion with Punjab minister for human rights and minority affairs.
The discussion took place on the eve of Universal Children’s Day 2018. The event was jointly organised by Search For Justice, Child Rights Movement, Punjab, National Commission for Human Rights, Ministry of Human Rights and Human Rights and Minority Affairs Department to mark Universal Children’s Day on Tuesday.
Search For Justice Programme Coordinator Rashida Qureshi said the United Nations Universal Children’s Day was established in 1954 and celebrated on November 20, every year, to promote international
togetherness, awareness among children worldwide and improving children's welfare.
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“November 20 is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” she highlighted.
Speaking on the occasion, child rights activist Iftikhar Mubarik said since 1990, Universal Children's Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the declaration and the convention on children's rights. “Universal Children's Day offers each of us an inspirational entry point to advocate, promote and celebrate children's rights, translating into dialogues and actions that will build a better world for children,” he said.
A panel of children had an interactive dialogue with Punjab Minister for Human Rights Ijaz Alam, PTI MPAs Sumaira Ahmed and Musarrat Jamshed Cheema to urge legal and policy reforms to ensure the protection of children from various forms of violence.
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Laiba Khan, a child participant, highlighted the issue of corporal punishment in schools and urged the provincial government to pass a legislation to prohibit corporal punishment as this was a major reason of children’s drop out from school and this also contribute in pushing children to run away from their homes.
She also demanded initiating campaigns to educate masses about the harmful effects of corporal punishment on children’s development. Another child participant, Sameer Haider, pointed out that the issue of child sexual abuse and the absence of child protection policy in the province to address such issues.
He urged the human rights minister to play an effective role in expediting the process of development and approval of child protection policy, followed by a plan of action to address all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation. Abu Turab, a child member of Search For Justice, pointed out the absence of legislative measures to prohibit child domestic labour since this was the worst form of Child Labour.
Bushra, a 15-year-old participant, urged the provincial government to increase the education budget with a particular focus on girls’ secondary education, which could be a strategy to address
the issue of child marriages as well. Abeeha Batool, a 10-yearold girl, mentioned the importance of devising mechanism to hear children views in matters related to children to exercise the right to participation for every child.
Shahzaib, a 16-year-old student, highlighted the need to realise and address the psychological and emotional health issues of children and young people. He also suggested appointing school psychologist at every school to provide counseling services to the students.
He also demanded the establishment of a telephonic helpline to address the issue of the absence of accurate information related to their carrier, psychological and emotional planning. He further added to include life skills-based education in compulsory school curriculum with a view to empowering children and adolescent to deal with the issue of child abuse.
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