ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is lagging in its commitment to educate its children and is simply “sugarcoating statistics” to appease the outside world.
This was said by Marium Soomro, the advocacy and communication manager at Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child. She was speaking on Tuesday at the “Pakistan’s Performance on Implementation of Convention on the Rights of the Child” conference, organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan at a local hotel.
The convention covered issues such as education, health, alternative care and exploitation, and the country’s inability to implement conventions under the accord.
The conference was initiated by Zafarullah Khan. He spoke of current legislative concerns regarding juvenile justice, such as deficiencies or absence of laws, status of implementation, concerns for the FATA region, resource allocation, juvenile courts, access, due process and detention.
Later, Soomro spoke on women and education-related issues such as accessibility, lack of coverage, budgetary allocations, provincial laws, gender disparity, vocational education, teacher training, neonatal care, early marriages and pregnancies. The country lags behind in its commitment to education while reporting sugar-coated numbers to the UN, she claimed.
Child rights expert Zehra Kamal Alam initiated a discussion on alternative care which encompassed the conditions of foster homes, remand homes in Sindh, guardianship rules, funding issues, and the state of state and private orphanages. She added that the country ranks 145 out of 187 on the Gender Development Index, as discriminatory practices such as honour killings, child marriages and bride burnings still occur.
Valerie Khan, chair of the National Action Coordination Group to Eradicate Violence against Children also spoke at the event, as did various human rights activists, political researchers and members of the media.
The convention closed with an assessment of the measures needed to end discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, religion and economic status. Conference participants discussed steps to curb violence against children, sexual and economic exploitation, corporal punishment, child trafficking, and the condition of street children. Thus far, the government has only ratified laws criminalising child pornography and prostitution.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2015.