Activists concerned over increasing violent incidents against children

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Demand exemplary punishment for child abusers

LAHORE: Activists have expressed grave concerns over the growing number of incidents of violence against children in Punjab.

They referred to two videos which went viral on social media in which children with disabilities were being tortured. They also referred to the acquittal of PML-N MPA Shahjahan’s daughter Fauzia from the murder charge of a teenage domestic servant Akhtar Hussain, as parents of the child and accused party managed to reach a compromise. The Akbari Gate Police had booked Fauzia for killing domestic worker Akhtar and torturing his sister.

The activists of Child Rights Movement (CRM) said that child rights violations are on the rise due to negligence of the Punjab government.

Addressing a press conference at Lahore Press Club on Thursday, Rashida Qureshi, coordinator of the Child Rights Movement Punjab, said that the government should ensure exemplary punishment for those who exploit children in any form. She lambasted the government for not framing a policy for the protection of children in Punjab. “There is a dire need for a provincial action plan to protect the children from torture, abuse and violence”, she said. However, she added: “It is a matter of concern that Punjab has no child rights policy as well as no action plan”.

Child rights activist Iftikhar Mubarak, while speaking on the government’s figures from the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (CPWB), said that from 2015 to 2016, as many as 73 children have been rescued from brutal violence in homes where they work but no abuser has ever been given even a minor punishment. “This is a big question mark on the good governance in Punjab since it is the responsibility of the provincial government to award exemplary punishments to the accused. Medical evidence is against the accused in all cases but there is no one to satisfy courts in these cases,” he said.

Mubarak urged the government to take measures to end child labour by enforcing strict laws and properly monitor and address children-related issues.

He expressed his disappointment that the Punjab government has failed to implement child labour act in letter and spirit and did not improve laws for providing rights to children.

Child rights activist Sana Khawaja said that the Punjab government should provide legal, moral, ethical and financial support to families of victims so that they do not have to reach a compromise with the accused.

“The state should become party in child abuse cases and give punishment to the accused without any favour and fear,” Sana demanded.

The Child Rights Movement (CRM) is a group of like-minded NGOs to deal with the exploitative and abusive situation of children in Punjab. It has been established to work jointly for the promotion and protection of child rights in Punjab.

25 NGOs are members of the movement and are working for the protection of child rights in Punjab.