Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) organized a media briefing on Pakistan’s International Commitments on Child Rights at a local hotel on Thursday.
The participants, which included parliamentarians, child rights experts, civil society activists and child clumber members, discussed the status of child rights in Pakistan in the light of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms Sidra Imran, Member Sindh Assembly said that keeping children at home will not make them safe by default. There’s a need for awareness campaigns for children and parents to disseminate information regarding COVID, domestic violence, corporal punishment and others harms to ensure complete protection of children at home.
The government needs to prioritize child education, health and protection. Simultaneously the recommendation of the previous UNCRC Report and international indicators such as Sustainable Development Goals, Human Development Index, Gender Gap etc. should be implemented in letter and spirit.
Kashif Mirza, Advocacy and Communication Manager SPARC shared that Pakistan has 22.84 million out-of-school children, which is the second-highest figure in the world. In addition, approximately 12 million Pakistani children are engaged in the labour force and many of them are involved in hazardous forms of work. This figure also includes over 1.2 million children living and working on the streets.
He added that Child marriages, trafficking, and sale for commercial and sexual exploitation are expected to rise due to the increased poverty. The cases of physical and sexual violence against girl domestic workers and street children are also being reported frequently.
Ms Shumaila Muzammil, Project Manager SPARC, mentioned that approximately 47% of Pakistan’s total population comprises children under the age of 18. Ms Shumaila Muzamil mentioned that Pakistan ratified the convention in November 1990 but only 24% of laws in Pakistan are in compliance with its requirements.
Bringing all the children related legislation in conformity with UNCRC and their effective implementation should be a top priority for the government.