ISLAMABAD: A seminar aimed at creating awareness about the rising trends of violence against children during the ongoing pandemic was held at local hotel in Islamabad on Monday. Participants including Child Rights Activists and parliamentarians agreed that there is a dire need to end Violence Against Children (VAC) in Pakistan.
The session was organized by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC).
Highlighting Pakistan’s progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Riaz Fatyana, Convener National Parliamentary Taskforce on SDGs said the safeguarding the children from all forms of violence is a key priority area for the government. He acknowledged that unfortunately Pakistan hasn’t delivered on its international and national commitments towards child rights however the current government is striving to change this situation. He mentioned The Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Bill, 2020 and support by the government for the National Assembly Bill on Corporal Punishment Bill. In addition Pakistan’s national and provincial assemblies established SDG Taskforces to oversee progress on the goals.
Mehnaz Akbar Aziz, Member, National Assembly and Chairperson Special Group on Child Rights of National Parliamentary Task Force on SDGs highlighted the role and functions of the SDGs Special Committee and task force. She discussed in detail the progress of SDGs especially regarding SDG 16.2. She stated that parliamentarians from different parties are supporting the government in the realization of commitments under SDG. All the parliamentarians, members of the task force are playing an active role in highlighting key issues and supporting the completion of various tasks.
Afshan Tehseen Bajwa, Chairperson National Commission on Child Rights told the participants that Voluntary National Review (VNR) is a process through which countries assess and present progress made in achieving the global goals and the pledge to leave no one behind. Pakistan’s Volunteer National Review (VNR) was done in July 2019, during high level political forum on SDGs. She added that improved Legislation, Institutional Mechanisms, Resource Allocation, Trained Human Resource and Cross Sectoral Partnerships are required to ensure complete survival, protection and development of our children.
Khalil Ahmed Dogar, Project Manager, SPARC said that Pakistan was the first country to adopt SDGs 2030 agenda through a unanimous resolution of parliament. Therefore its responsibility of the state to ensure all indicators of SDGs are met especially Goal 16.2 ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’. Under target 16.2, the state should aim to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence against and torture of children which has increased during COVID-19 pandemic. He mentioned the third six-monthly report launched by Sustainable Social Development Organisation (SSDO), ‘Tracking numbers’, which noted that child abuse cases increased three times in the second half compared to the first half of the year. Punjab reported maximum cases of child abuse followed by Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.