06/12/2009, 00.00
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Pakistan, 7thousand cases of violence against minors in 2008

by Qaiser Felix
Today is the World Day against Child Labour. Despite government proclamations conditions for minors in the country remain difficult. The wound of child soldiers is added to a low level of education, violence and a lack of health care.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – In 2008 in Pakistan 6,780 cases of violence committed on minors took place: sexual abuse, targeted murders, abductions, forced labour and suicides are only some example of this, to which the exploitation of “child soldiers” in the war between Islamic fundamentalism and the army, must be added.  The 2008 report on the “Condition of Children in Pakistan” –released  by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC)   underlines the governments failure to apply national and international law in protection of the rights of minors.

Today marks World Day against Child Labour.  The Pakistani rights group report lists corporal punishment, the wound of street children, child brides and acid attacks, that mark the young lives forever.  It urges a clamping down on child pornography and demands that the minimum age to marry is raised from 16 to 18.

The document reports that almost 30% of children under the age of five are malnourished. There are approximately 70 physicians for every 0.1 million people and a mere 1,000 government-run hospitals to cater to the entire population (circa 173 million). It claims that 30-40 percent of children of school going age across the country, are not attending schools; that 4,million babies  are born in Pakistan every year but 40,000 die before reaching five.

The report cites a study by the Initiator Human Development Foundation in 2008, saying children from the lower strata of society studying at the madrasse religious schools also fall victim to sexual violence. The study claims seminary teachers sexually abused 21 % of sample students. The report says about 40% schools in the public sector are without boundary walls, 33 % without drinking water, over half without electricity or lavatories and 7 % without buildings. The tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan, the theatre of violence between the army and the fundamentalists, have the least infrastructure for education; the few remaining resources are targeted by the Taleban, who have destroyed hundreds of schools above all female institutes.

The SPARC report says the government, despite its claims, has not favour polices to protect minors.  In 1988 funding for education was equal to 2.4% of the Gross National Product (GDP). In the two year period of 2007-8 it grew little, arriving at a miserable 2.9% of the GDP.  Pakistan is still far from reaching the Millenium Development Goals (MDG): among which is the guarantee of education for all by 2015.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (Hrcp) also warns of abuse and mistreatment of minors.  The 2008 document on human rights reports that that at least 114 children were killed for various reasons, including for honour killings, and at least 221 girls and several hundred boys were reported to have been raped, gang-raped, subjected to sodomy or stripped in public. In the nations cities an estimated 700,000 children live and work on the streets; while in rural areas across Pakistan children are being recruited by armed militias and trained for terrorist attacks.  

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