Lahore, Child protection policies more important than countering terrorism
Activists demand policies and laws for the protection of minors. Disdain and protests for the rape and murder of seven year old Zainab. In the first six months of 2017, 1764 cases of child abuse. Of these, about 62% occurred in Punjab. In Lahore, the first child protection unit in all of South Asia. Prohibit child marriage and corporal punishment in schools.
Lahore (AsiaNews) - In Pakistan, the protection of minors "is more important than the fight against terrorism" says Hina Jilani, a lawyer and human rights expert. The activist took part in a meeting of organizations that defend children's rights.
They are calling for a policy to protect minors to stop the increase in violence against children. Jilani said “this agenda is even more important than countering terrorism. The current hysteria of blocking roads, attacking government buildings and police will not help. A special task force must be formed, child marriages must end and corporal punishment should be banned in school. All parties will be held accountable on these issues in the upcoming general elections".
Jilani was speaking at Jan 12 “press conference to demand justice for our children” at Lahore press club. Child Rights Movement, a group of more than 100 organizations, organized the event in the wake of the sexual assault and brutal murder of 7 year old Zainab on January 10 in Kasur district, Punjab province. This was the 12th case of sexual abuse of a child reported from area located near provincial capital.
According to Sahil an organisation working on child protection with a special focus on sexual abuse, 1,764 cases of child abuse were reported from across the country in the first six months of 2017. These included 1067 females and 697 boys. 62 percent (1089 cases) were reported from Punjab province. 11 cases of child sexual abuse are reported from across Pakistan every day.
But violence against children goes beyond sexual abuse. Last November, the president of the Lahore High Court ordered the Inspector General of Police to appoint two unarmed police officers and install CCTV cameras in all schools and buses for children. The decision by President Syed Mansoor Ali Shah followed a viral video showing a bus driver slapping and pulling a deaf-mute child's hair at the special educational center of Sambrial, a small town in Punjab. The incident led to the suspension of the head of the institute and the arrest of two suspects.
The Lahore Children's Hospital, run by the local government, is home to the first child protection unit in South Asia that deals with child abuse cases. Dr. Naeem Zafar, a specialist in minors, told AsiaNews that every year the unit takes care of 150 to 200 cases. "Since 2009, that is since we started to operate - he claims - about 1600 episodes have been recorded. Structures like ours must also be open in other hospitals ".
Dr. Zafar, president of Protection and Help for Children Against Abuse and Neglect, organizes training courses on the protection of children for parents, government officials, medical specialists and teachers of schools. "Children between the ages of 11 and 15 are most vulnerable to abuse. Sex education is still considered taboo. The society strongly resists such discussions. Also there is no mechanism to teach parenthood. They deny the existence of such issues in presence of Islamic milieu and prevalent joint family system,” he said.