Child abuse victims without parental lineage at severe disadvantage, Senate told

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Senate’s Special Committee on the Increasing Incidents of Child Abuse was held on Tuesday which was convened by Senator Nuzhat Sadiq.

The meeting was attended by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, Senator Sitara Ayaz, Senator Sherry Rehman and senior officers of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), National Police Bureau, the Ministry of Human Rights along with all concerned.

Representatives of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) were present as well.

The meeting began with NADRA’s briefing in which the Senators were informed that their system selects the names of the families for those children without any parental lineage at random and those children are then added to the family tree of the selected persons without their consent.

However, it was explained, that other than the impediment of lack of evidence, many children at the time of reporting abuse incidents fail to prove their parental lineage which is a big disadvantage for such children.

Senator Sitara Ayaz stressed that selecting names at random is a big issue which NADRA must address, specially because of the fact that this was done without the knowledge of those selected. Senator Raza Rabbani said that this could lead to major issues with respect to succession and inheritance.

Nuzhat Sadiq showed displeasure regarding lack of preparedness and coordination between key agencies that was imperative for the protection of child rights in Pakistan.

Ministry of Human Rights Secretary Rabia Javaria Agha was of the view that if any progress is to be made, fundamental issues must be addressed and that the tendency for agencies to work in seclusion must be curbed. The situation of the child is despicable, she said.

Agha further stated that children require an identity and added that basic birth registrations are just 30 per cent in Pakistan. Children who have no birth registrations cannot be found and in case of abuse cannot have their complaints registered. She praised UNICEF for working towards the birth registrations because that is the basic in acknowledging a child’s identity.

UNICEF Chief Child Protection Programme head Silvia Pasti said that this is programme commenced in 2018 after taking rights of the children into the consideration.

She said that the main issue faced by them was lack of evidence of abuse that children face in this country. She said that one big pillar of the programme is to support the government to generate evidence which will assist policy-making regarding this severe issue in Pakistan.

Pasti said that the UNICEF’s Child Protection Programme plans to conduct a survey in all the provinces of Pakistan on violence against children and the economic exploitation of the child in Pakistan.