Facilitation centres for child abuse victims, their families proposed

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ISLAMABAD: The task force constituted on Zainab’s murder case to diagnose systematic issue of child abuse has recommended to set up a ‘One Stop Facilitation Center’ in Kasur as pilot project on earliest in order to provide medical, psychiatric, psycho-social and legal support to the victims and their families at district and tehsil level.

This was stressed as a short-term strategy in a report titled “Mapping of Issues & Response to Sexual Violence Against Children” recently submitted before the Steering Committee on ‘Kasur Tragedy & Redressal of Systematic Issues’ proposed 11-point remedial measures involving short and long-term strategies to check the pedophilia in different parts of the country, specially Kasur.

The Kasur-based study was conducted in six months involving extensive desk research of prevailing system and legal framework, meetings with multi-stakeholders and a five-week long fieldwork.

It was endorsed in the steering committee chaired by Mohtsib Syed Tahir Shahbaz Wafaqi that such facilitation centres would be run under the supervision of a committee comprising officials of the Health Department and federal and provincial commissioners. International development partners and UNICEF would be approached for financial assistance to manage these centers.

The report also recommended such centres must be equipped with tools to conduct effective monitoring, reporting and oversight of children’s rights violations. Beside, ensuring the legal assistance and other necessary help to the aggrieved parties.

It also emphasised for developing of the database of DNA of the criminals, suspects and potential perpetrators at district Kasur level on an urgent basis to ensure quick tracing of the offenders of sexual abuse and missing children, besides adopting zero tolerance against culprits.

Long-term initiatives proposed enactment of new laws and some amendments in existing laws to ensure psyco-social, legal and medical support as well as the prohibition of exonerating of accused with the consent of aggrieved. The legal time-frame of such cases must be reduced to six months, it added.

The installation of more closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in more prone cities and development of protocol with Facebook and Google authorities to control inflow and outflow of pornographic materials is also suggested.

It also underlined to introduce educational reforms by starting sensitisation and training of school and Madrasa-going children and teachers, boy scouts and girl guides to beat the threat of such attempts. Parents should also be imparted trainings on same lines.

Police trainings are more critical to handle the victim, accused and media as per national and international laws, the report highlighted.

The document also highlighted the concerned authorities’ failure in controlling the incidents and tracing the culprits of certain mafia involved in pornography.

Unfortunately, the report revealed Punjab’s most pathetic situation where some 1089 cases of sexual violence, out of 4,139 in the entire country in 2017, were reported. Lahore was among top where majority of the incidents occurred.

Commissioner for Children and Federal Ombudsman Adviser Syeda Viqar-un-Nisa Hashmi said the report is now with the president of Pakistan and the consultations on child abused issue with parliamentarians are scheduled in the coming days.

Viqar said they would provide full support and facilitate the concerned authorities for rooting out this menace from the country.

The commissioner regretted that about 92 per cent of the reported accused were illiterate and had formal education. Almost 45 per cent of whom studied up to only primary level, followed by 15 who went to have secondary and middle classes, she added.

She stressed to educate parents for keeping the children away from the electronic gadgets which are the main source of incitement in early ages.