In the run-up to the World Day Against Child Labour on June 12 (tomorrow), Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari inaugurated the Aitzaz Hasan Child Protection Institute in Islamabad on Thursday.
Established under the Islamabad Capital Territory Child Protection Act 2018, the institute was drafted by the Ministry of Human Rights to protect children from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury, neglect, maltreatment, exploitation and abuse, a spokesperson stated, adding that it will provide protection services to vulnerable and at-risk children.
On this occasion, Dr Mazari reiterated the government's commitment to safeguarding the rights of children and eliminating child labour in all of its forms, stressing its physical and psychological dangers. "Ensuring the rights of children is a key priority of the present government and the new Child Protection Institute is a significant milestone in this concentrated effort to prevent the abuse, injury and exploitation of children in Pakistan," she maintained.
The minister said that the Institute would help provide rescue, shelter, counseling, family tracing and rehabilitation services to street children, child labourers or children who were trafficked, lost and neglected. She emphasised the recent, concrete steps taken by the Ministry of Human Rights to strengthen legislation and protect children's constitutionally guaranteed rights.
The case of eight-year-old Zohra Shah, who was ruthlessly killed by her employer, prompted the ministry to propose a significant amendment to classify child domestic labour as a "hazardous occupation" under Schedule 1 of the Employment of Children Act, 1991, she added.
Moreover, Dr Mazari mentioned that the ministry runs a national helpline 1099 to register complaints of human rights violations across Pakistan and ensure prompt redressal.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11h, 2021.