The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) held a briefing session on Thursday on “State of Child Rights in view of Pakistan’s International Commitments” at the National Press Club, Islamabad.
Civil society organisations, working towards the promotion and protection of child’s rights, stressed the need for a strategy to ensure the implementation of laws to meet Pakistan’s obligations under the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
Khalil Ahmed Dogar, SPARC Program Manager, said Pakistan was the sixth nation and first Muslim country that signed the UNCRC 30 years ago. The UNCRC is often identified as the standard source for measuring child rights, he added.
The convention lists the civil, political, cultural, social, and economic rights of children, and acts as a standard for disseminating laws that might help protect the rights of children. He added we still need to work on infrastructural reforms required to uplift the living standard of Pakistan’s children.
Ahmed mentioned that due to a lack of will from policymakers, Pakistani children are deprived of their rights to survival, protection, and development.
He shared Pakistan’s low ranking on most of the child-related indicators of Millennium Development Goals, with 22.84 million out-of-school children in Pakistan, which is the second-highest figure in the world. He said approximately 12 million Pakistani children are engaged in the labour force and many of them are involved in hazardous forms of work.
The figure includes over 1.2 million children living and working on the streets. “Child marriages, trafficking for commercial and sexual exploitation, child sexual abuse is on the rise," he said, adding that all political parties need to unite and make across-the-board efforts to ensure Pakistani children have a bright future free of exploitation.”