KARACHI: Education Minister Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar has claimed Sindh was the first province in the country which took measures for protection of children from sexual harassment even before the occurrence of tragic Zainab incident.

The minister stated this while winding up the discussion on a private resolution which was read out by PPP MPA Saira Shahliani as approved by Sindh Women Parliamentarian Caucus.

Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza presided over the session when the resolution was deliberated.

The resolution said: “This house recommends Sindh government to take steps for improvement of school emergency and management mechanism.

“The school administration should forbid anyone from entering into its premises without prior authorisation and increase the number of female caretakers and maids.”

The education minister pointed out that 1,500 master trainers had been trained so far in the province with the help of singer and social worker Shehzad Roy and child abuse awareness programmes had been introduced in 200 schools.

He further pointed out that only the other day PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in his press conference had highlighted the measures being taken by the Sindh government to protect the children from abuse.

He said the government was acquiring services of more master trainers to train school teachers.

Besides, some schools were being handed over to private organisations with good reputation.

“The USAID has also proposed to improve the school management system,” he added.

Leader of the opposition Khawaja Izhar said the objectives could not be achieved by merely passing the resolution until the root causes were discovered and plucked.

“Most of our schools lack boundary walls and gatekeepers.

“Even after the Army Public School tragedy in Peshawar, no effective mechanism was evolved in any province for child protection,” he added.

Senior Parliamentary Minister Nisar Ahmad Khuhro said responsibility also lied on school administrations and parents other than the legislature to frame laws on the subject.

“On the directives of the PPP chairman the government has already formed a committee to supervise the child protection programme,” he added.

Dr Seema Zia of the PTI suggested the need for monthly checkup of children not only in schools but also in madressahs.

Shamim Mumtaz, adviser to CM on social welfare, said 30,000 students in 200 schools were being trained to protect themselves from abuse and harassment.

Mehtab Akbar Rashdi of the PML-F suggested that the language of the resolution be improved to make it clearer.

Sorath Thebo of the PML-N said the teachers should train students, especially girls, to observe behaviour of strangers with them keenly.

Naela Munir and Heer Soho of the MQM said many cases were reported after Zainab’s incident.

Khurram Sherzaman of the PTI also endorsed the resolution.

Earlier, Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal informed Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani that show-cause notices had been issued to SSP and SHO concerned in the killing of two Hindu brothers Dileep and Chander Maheshwari in Mithi.

He added that he himself had been monitoring the progress of the case.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2018