The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) released its annual report “The State of Pakistan‘s Children 2012” at the Peshawar Press Club on Monday.
The Sparc report provides an overview of annual development specific to sectors relevant to children, including child rights, education and health, violence against children, administration of juvenile justice, and child labour. The report also presents recommendations to guide policymakers at both federal and provincial levels.
The Sparc report provides a dismal account of the deteriorating state of children’s rights in Pakistan. While presenting the major findings of the report, programme manager Imran Takkar said children have to face an alarming lack of educational opportunities, poor health facilities, absence of protection and miserable conditions in juvenile jails.
He added 25 million children do not receive an education and are not in schools, with the country’s position on the Education Development Index ranking a dismal 113 out of 120 countries.
According to the report, 225,000 newborn deaths are reported in Pakistan annually which highlights the resurgence of polio and measles in the country.
“Violence against children remains culturally entrenched as children in Pakistan undergo physical violence, sexual abuse, trafficking and acid attacks.”
The findings quote Sahil’s Cruel Numbers report to reveal there were 3,861 cases of child sexual abuse reported from different parts of the country in 2012. Relying on Madadgaar Helpline’s national database, 5,659 cases of violence against children were reported in the country from January to October 2012.
There were 12 million child labourers in the country as of 2012. The statistics were taken from international sources as Pakistan has failed to undertake a child labour survey since 1996, stated Takkar.
According to the report, Pakistan lacks adequate facilities to deal with children who come in conflict with the law. The report also lamented the fact even 12 years after the promulgation of the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance 2000, there is ineffective implementation of the law as children are denied bail, kept with adult prisoners and produced in fetters and handcuffs before courts.
MPA Fazal Elahi said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government is committed to protect children’s rights but stressed practical steps are needed to be taken on a large-scale instead of holding conference and workshops. “To eradicate child labour, we need to establish more schools with complete facilities geared towards children receiving an all-encompassing education”, Elahi said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2013.