KARACHI: Sindh Police and Zindagi Trust held a ‘Child protection action dialogue’ in the Zindagi Trust adopted Khatoon-i-Pakistan (KPS) government school on Wednesday.
Earlier Zindagi Trust had a meeting with IG Sindh Police Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar 10 days ago in KPS.
He was joined by the founder of Zindagi Trust, Shehzad Roy, former head of special programmes and advocacy Sana Kazmi, CEO Hameedah Sayani, Faiq Ahmed and Manish Kazmi.
The IGP Sindh was given an extensive tour of the premises and shown the work done there by the trust.
Later, he had a meeting in which he stressed the importance of the work the trust had done in implementing life skills-based education.
He stressed the importance of creating awareness among students of the need for child protection against abuse and encouraging reporting to police.
The IG stressed the importance of working together.
As a follow-up to that meeting, the Sindh police collaborated with Zindagi Trust to hold an open discussion with relevant stakeholders about safeguarding children on Wednesday.
The participants shared their experiences regarding child protection and the National Commission on the Rights of Child, the Sindh Child Protection Authority, Social Welfare Department.
The meeting focused on creating coordination between child protection authorities.
There was also a discussion on the Zainab Alert application.
It was said that the app was developed with the support of the CPLC in March 2020 and thanks to it any report of any missing child is reported on the police portal.
“So far, 565 out of 610 children in Sindh have been recovered thanks to the app.”
An official from the CPLC said that the success of the app was due to having an entire system behind it.
Hameedah Sayani said their NGO was looking at how they can add value to the endeavours on child protection.
Shehzad Roy said that their main work was to reform government schools. “But,” he pointed out, “here in this country there is a culture of beating up children. So much so that children think it as normal. This needs to change,” he said, while bringing up Section 89 in law, which allowed beating children in good faith.
Zindagi Trust is working at repealing this law.
Roy also spoke about how they implemented a curriculum to protect children against abuse.
“We are also working with the police to see how we can sensitise this issue,” he added.
An activist spoke about corporal punishment.
It was suggested that various acts and bills passed for protecting the young were brought under one umbrella.
One participant discussed shelter homes and that children should not be kept at these shelter homes.
No law on child beggars in Sindh
It was mentioned that there was no law on child beggars in Sindh although there was a need for it because they don’t know what to do with children who beg once they were picked up.
The issue of child marriages brought up the issue of Islamic law.
Another NGO representative said that it is important to share information about successful cases.
A transgender activist said that there should be a chapter in the police syllabus about transgender people and how to treat them as an equal human being.
It was mentioned that transgenders could not get an FIR registered.
In his closing remarks, IG Mushtaq Mahar said that the victimised children were usually helpless.
He said all institutions working for the welfare of children should be integrated.
Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2021