LAHORE, October 20th: Despite legislation, domestic child labourers were treated like slaves and not only deprived of their right to education, but health services, survival, food, proper care, to have friends, enjoy free time as well as protection from abuse, violence and exploitation. This was stated by Child Rights Activist Iftikhar Mubarik.
He was speaking at a presser on the rise in cases of violence against children. Recently, a video emerged in which differently-abled children were being beaten on a bus of the Special Education Department.
Speakers from the Child Rights Movement Punjab and Search for Justice also expressed their views on the occasion. They urged the Punjab government to put its money where its mouth is and implement the child protection policy to end the ever-increasing cases of abuse and violence in Punjab.
CAN Pakistan Programme Coordinator Rashida Qureshi condemned recent incidents of violence and humiliation of special children. She said that this incident reflected that adults, who interacted with children in general and special children, in particular, required sensitisation on child rights. “The Punjab government must introduce some comprehensive programmes to provide orientation and sensitisation to children’s care givers on child rights and protection.”
She said that it was regrettable that despite various reported incidents, the Punjab government was still unable to formulate a child protection policy. She added this was a huge question mark over Punjab’s claim of good governance.
“Child Rights Movement is very much concerned that the CM had no time to discuss and find solutions to address the issues of children”. She urged the establishment of a child protection system with appropriate social, legal and psychological support services rather than responses to individual cases.
Mubarik said that employment of children in households was against the spirit of Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan and the Punjab Free and Compulsory Education Act 2014.
“Domestic child labour is promoting the class differences among kids and this can also leave negative impacts on their psychological and emotional well-being. The government can’t make excuses for delaying the enactment of necessary legislation to prohibit domestic child labour. The delay will result in violating children’s best interest.” Child Rights Movement Senior Member Sana Khawaja expressed concern over the number of reported incidents in which children, working as domestic servants, suffered brutal violence at the hands of their employers.
“Not even a single child can be punished by law and this reflects the serious gaps existing in the current system. Children are not the property of anyone. If people are violating the best interest of the child, the country should play its role in protecting the rights of children as stated in Article 19 of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.” Advocate Mansoor Moeen said that in many cases, parents compromised with accused parties and there were no exemplary cases of punishment as a result. He urged the government to reconsider the causes which push the victim’s family to seek a compromise with abusive employers.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2017.