ISLAMABAD, April 28: Abuse, torture and militancy are making children's future uncertain in Pakistan, said a report launched on Thursday.
“The State of Pakistan's Children 2010” by the Society for the Protection or Rights of the Child (Sparc) said civilised countries provide children with their legitimate and fundamental rights but in Pakistan their future was on stake.
MNA Bushra Gohar, Samar Minallah, executive director Ethno Media, journalist Qatrina Hosain, Terje Barstad, deputy head of mission from the Royal Norwegian Embassy, and others were present at the launch of Sparc's 15th annual report.
In 2010, the report said 92 children died while 118 were seriously injured due to militancy. It added that the floods last year only brought more bad news for the children. By September 2010, there were over 2.5 million children under the age of five who were in need of food.
Terming a child “a silent observer'' and “least resisting human being”, the report said these two dimensions make children susceptible to social injustice, abuse, torture, inhumane behavior and in some instances ruthless killing.
It said despite the frequent incidents of child abuse and honour killing of girls, the government was not interested in taking steps to stop them.
Samar Minallah talked about effects of parallel justice systems and customs like jirga , panchaiyat , vani and swara on the lives of girls.
She termed Vani, Swara , and Sung Chatti as culturally-sanctioned violence against girls. In 2010, she said 29 cases of Vani have been reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “All these evil practices are applied for resolving land, water, murder, and property disputes by giving young daughters in unceremonious wedlock.''
But Ms Minallah also added that traditions and customs have been corrupted over the years, saying under Swara a girl was symbolically sent to the enemy's home for seeking forgiveness. She said the girl was used to be sent back with lots of gifts. “But now this custom has evolved into an evil and disgusting practice in which women are given to opposing party for solving petty issues.''
Qatrina Hosain regretted that the politicians were ignoring the plight of children. On the loopholes in government policies about child labor, she said media's role was vital in highlighting these gaps. Bushra Gohar said the report's recommendations can greatly help improve the condition of the children in Pakistan. She added that that the recommendations would be shared with the federal government.Terje Barstad said at least 40 per cent of Pakistan's population is under the age of 15 years but a vast majority of them “faces grave issues like health, education, and poor nutrition. Pakistan has to go a long way in overcoming these issues.”