Let’s call 2018 ‘year of children’: Farhatullah Babar

  • Child commissioner suggests linking DNA test with NADRA


Calling for compiling credible data on incidents involving child abuse, Senator Farhatullah Babar, while addressing a high-level meeting at the Wafaqi Mohtasib (Federal Ombudsman) Secretariat on the systematic issue of child abuse in Kasur, on Friday suggested the year 2018 be declared as ‘Year of Children’.

The meeting was called to prepare a national action plan to protect children from any kind of sexual, physical, psychological issues and ensure a safe and conducive environment for younger generations.

Speaking on the occasion, Babar said, “United Nations has asked Pakistan several times to prepare consolidated data on all kinds of crimes against children, including child abuse, child marriages, child abduction, murder etc, but nothing has been done yet.”

The senator said a catalog should be prepared clearly mentioning nature of crimes, areas, age groups of victim children etc, so that concrete steps could be taken accordingly.

In her address, Commissioner for Children, Federal Ombudsman Office, Shaheen Atiqur Rehman proposed that deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) should be linked with the National Data Base Authority (NADRA) for curbing crime rate in the country.

She said the Zainab case was not the first one reported, rather a number of issues related to child sexual abuse were reported in past but no conviction was made.

“In the past, a massive issue of 65,000 pornographic movies of children was highlighted on which the Federal Investigation Agency initiated an investigation but no report emerged afterwards”, the commissioner said.

Sharing his remarks on internet conferencing, Senator SM Zafar, the chairman of the National Commission on Children, called for establishing National Commission on Rights of Children (NCRC) at the earliest.

He said there was a dire need for police sensitisation and training as they were the first ones to handle the issue of reported crimes. He said awareness among parents to report missing children immediately was imperative so that their children could remain safe from any untoward situation.

“Only recovery is not important but the protection of children is necessary”, he remarked. Zafar also asked for a separate allocation of budget and funds for children issues annually so that mechanisms can be established to facilitate people at grassroots level.

Senator Rubina Khalid, the chairperson of the Task Force on Transgender, pointed out that it was the responsibility of state to bear the cost of DNA in case of sexual abuse case as the victim family could not afford the huge cost of it.

“According to my information, currently victim’s family is asked to pay cost of the test but they are not able to pay Rs. 30,000 to Rs 50,000”, she said.

Khawar Mumtaz, the Chairperson of the National Commission on Status of Women, shared that a sustainable strategy was imperative to root out this menace from our society. She added that as the DNA was mandatory in child sexual abuse cases so it should be a responsibility of the state.

She also informed that NCSW had established a core group engaging all stakeholders working on child rights issues including civil society, Human Rights Activists, to work out a quick response mechanism.

She also asked for establishing more forensic labs in the country and endorse the establishment of NCHR at the earliest.

A representative of United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) informed the meeting that they were working on case management child referral system.

The additional director of the interior ministry informed the meeting that unfortunately around 45 million children were living below poverty line who were more vulnerable. He said ample legislation had been done on rights of children but now the issue is implementation.

“Almost 30 to 40 percent population of the country are living below poverty line and unless their issues are not focused particularly, the vicious circle could not break”, he remarked.


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