ISLAMABAD, Oct 11: All over the world 40 million children face torture, 15 per cent out of them are sexually abused, 2.8 million face human trafficking, 53,000 are murdered and 126 million are affected by natural disasters.
On the other hand, the situation in Pakistan should be a concern for every conscientious citizen. 700 schools have been demolished during the last eight years, polio is on the rise, 40 per cent women get married before 18 years of age and 15 per cent marry before reaching 13 years of age.
It was stated by the participants of the “National Conference of Child Rights” organised by Ministry of Human Rights with the collaboration of a non government organisation (NGO), Plan International on Thursday.
Participants were informed that children are one of the most vulnerable segments of society. In Pakistan out of 180 million people, 78 million are under the age of 18 years. Poverty, security issues, climate changes, conflicts and other factors affect children the most. At the moment, minimum age to start a criminal trial against a person is 7 years and minimum age for marriage is 16 years.
Appropriate legislation should declare 13 years as minimum age to start criminal trials and minimum age for marriage should be 18 years.
Deputy Speaker, Faisal Karim Kundi, while talking to participants said that Pakistan as a frontline state in the war against terror had suffered economic and human losses, directly affecting the life of children in conflict areas.
Condemning the attack on Malala Yousafzai, the Deputy Speaker said that Malala Yousafzai was a symbol of a progressive and forward looking Pakistan. He said that terrorists are so desperate that they did not spare a child.
“Violence against children does not only mean physical and direct assault on them but it also means limiting their choices by exposing them to danger and not giving them the opportunity to get an education, which they deserve” he said.
Member of National Assembly (MNA), Yasmeen Rehman said that the issue of violence against children and women should be addressed.
“On Wednesday, I heard that 13 girls in Balochistan were declared Vanni. Media and civil society has to play a role in resolving the issue,” she said.
MNA Rubina Saadat Qaim Khani said that children can only be safeguarded, if their rights are protected. “I visited Malala on Tuesday and saw her diary ‘Gul Makai’, it is a weapon against terrorists,” she said.
Secretary Ministry of Human Rights Shaigan Shareef Malik said that the ministry is in the process of establishing a National Commission on Child Rights.
Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan Peter Heyward said that child rights cannot be taken lightly. Australia will provide full cooperation regarding resolving the issues of children in Pakistan, he said.
Javed Rasheed of Plan International said that Pakistan has a vibrant civil society and media. They should play their role for the solution of issues regarding children.