By: S.K. Sami
Peshawar: Child rights activist and founder of KP Child Rights Movement (CRM), Imran Takkar during an interview to the Country News told that the main hurdles occurring in the way of child protection because “In Pakistan actually population is high, the economic condition isn’t satisfactory, while the awareness and education level at the same time is low. Parents and children as the main stakeholders are not empowered”.
The activist has said that Pakistan is facing a serious challenge as enrollment and retention rates as well progress of improving education indicators are quite slow. About 22.8 million children in age of 5-16 are out-of-school in Pakistan, while similarly in KP as per the provincial government statistics 1.8 million school going kids excluding merged districts are out of school. Over 12.5 million children in the country are labour, while daily 10 to 12 children are becoming the victim of sexual abuse, the most shocking aspect of the cases was that victims as in 98 cases in 2020 Jan-June, were between the ages of one to five years, he estimated. Pakistan has the sixth highest absolute number of girls married or in a union before the age of 18 in the world. According to him the state of children health in Pakistan 74 out of 1,000 children under the age of one cannot survive their first year of life and 44 out of 1,000 newborns not even the first month of life.
When he was asked about the current government’s law of the child protection and his expectations towards the succeeding chances of its implementation on the ground, he said that the laws are there, and are good laws, institutions and concerned departments are in placed under these laws but the implementation of the existing laws is always a question mark. As there are so many challenges of resources, capacity and coordination as well complication/loaf holes in the system, so we need to address all these challenges keeping in view protecting children rights. Laws can be useful when be implemented in its true spirit. In implementation the main hurdles are always budgetary allocation, capacity of the implementing stakeholders and awareness among the masses on the laws/system and strengthen coordination of the relevant departments/stakeholders, he added.
Reciprocating about his struggle for the child protection, he added that four Child courts have been established in collaboration with the honorable judiciary in Peshawar, Abbottabad, Mardan and Mohmmand in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while one each in Lahore, Quetta and Islamabad. Same recently KP government following the aforementioned model and has approved four more child protection courts in Swat, Kohat, Bannu and D.I. Khan, which is welcoming and appreciable. At the same time we are in collaboration and coordination at federal and provincial level with government with the purpose to strengthen the system of child protection and justice with children in the country, he claimed. Building the capacity of the police, lawyers, judges, prosecutors, media, community elders and children on child rights, child protection and justice with children, the activist furthered.
Takkar while answering regarding the rapid increase in child abuse ratio for the last few years said that, it is often said by the authorities concerned that the cases haven’t been increased but the reporting rate increased. However according to him, no doubt! The reporting and communication sources might have been increased to a great extent but it cannot be denied that at the same time such undesirable cases having also been increased with every passing day as well. The causes for such increase he included as lack of awareness among parents, poverty, over population, use of internet and weak child protection system, he added. Imran stressed over that there should of community based child protection system under the law in which all the stakeholders are interconnected and should work for prevention and if there is any incident then there must be a quick response mechanism.