ISLAMABAD: Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) launched a Post Card Campaign to raise awareness on the ratification of the ‘Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of Children.’ The event was held to mark ‘Universal Human Rights Day,’ which is celebrated every year on December 10.
The campaign was launched at a press conference organised by Sparc at the National Press Club.
Addressing media persons, Sparc Coordinator of CRM Imtiaz Ahmed said, “The aim behind launching the advocacy campaign is to deal with unequal and abusive situation of children in country and create awareness about it among government high ups, general public and stake holders.”
He said that in Pakistan a large number of children are sexually abused, trafficked and made victims of pornography.
“Considering this alarming situation, all civil societies working for children’s rights felt an urgent need to kick-off a strong movement to tackle the widespread abuse, neglect and exploitation of children in the country,” he added.
Ahmed further said besides the advocacy campaign, about 10,000 posts cards addressed to the Foreign Minister of Pakistan had been printed that would be sent to him by all the civil societies working for the rights of children in the country. Children from various schools and backgrounds will also be rallied, who will urge the government to ensure legislation for their protection.
He said that ‘child rights’ are human rights and it was the prime responsibility of the government to provide children with a peaceful environment. “Unfortunately in Pakistan no such concept exists,” he added.
Ahmed said, “Across the globe many countries have taken legal and administrative measures to prevent child prostitution, child pornography and sale of children to punch the offenders and ensure that child victims are reintegrated and rehabilitated in the society.”
However, Pakistan was failing to protect their rights in such cases, despite the fact that it had signed the two Option Protocols (OPs) to the Convention on the Rights of Child in October 2001. The government would have taken measures to curtail sale of the children, child prostitution, child pornography and involvement of children in armed conflict if the OPs were implemented .
While considering Pakistan’s third and fourth periodic reports, the United Nation (UN) Committee on the Rights of the Children, Geneva strongly recommended Pakistan to ratify both these OPs.
“At various levels, a boy under 18 and a girl under 16 is considered as a child, whereas at other places a child is someone who is below 14. There is no clear definition of a child,” he said.
He said for a boy and a girl to be considered as a child, they should have similar ages without any discrimination.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Child Rights’ Coordinator of Sparc Shaista Kiran said, “Pornography is increasing in the country and children are being forced into it through various ways and tricks.”
She further said this trend is increasing in Pakistan with the increase in the use of internet.
“Many children are also becoming victim of forced early marriages,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2010.