‘State can interfere when kids are abused by even parents’
In the wake of the suo moto taken by the Supreme Court Chief Justice regarding alleged torture on a 10-year old minor domestic servant in Islamabad, Tayyaba, the child rights activists have demanded a complete ban on child domestic labour on urgent basis at least in the federal capital.
The demand came forward at a seminar organized by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC). The speakers expressed their concerns on the rapid increase in the incidents of abuse of children’s rights across the country.
The meeting was attended by civil society organizations, activists of child rights, intellectuals and thinkers. They agreed to launch a nationwide campaign to address the underlined importance of awareness on child rights.
Addressing the seminar, Sadia Hussain, Executive Director SPARC, said in the wake of rising cases of violence, abuse, and criminal negligence on behalf of parents, it is necessary that the Parliament should make strict laws and ensure that the violators don’t go unpunished. “Such laws would allow the state to intervene against an abusive or negligent parent, legal guardian or caregiver, and take adequate measures for the protection of the child by; ‘acting as the parent of any child in need of protection,’” she said.
Kashif Bajeer from Child Rights Movement Sindh called for a complete ban at the federal level on child domestic labor on urgent basis. Currently, Tayyaba’s fate appears to be uncertain due to the absence of such legislation, whose father refused to pursue the case against her abusive employer; which is a glaring testament for the need for a law that would make the state responsible for protecting the rights of children where their parents fail.
This is also in line with Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child UNCRC, (which has been ratified by Pakistan), which clearly requires a provision for the state to intervene when such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child; such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents.
Civil Society activist from Peshawar, Jehanzeb Khan lamented that it is currently too easy for legal guardians to get away with the most heinous crimes under technicalities within our laws which currently allow them to circumvent punishment, or push the child back into the cycle of abuse, without any consequences. This is because the risks are present within or because of the family of the child, when parents and other family members are either unwilling or unable to protect their children.
In order to adequately protect children across Pakistan from abuse, neglect and exploitation on behalf of parents, caregivers, and guardians, SPARC demanded the enactment of uniform laws across the country, as well as the formulation of a framework which would enable federal and provincial institutions to work in close coordination with each other to ensure the safety and security of children under threat, especially in cases when the perpetrator is the parent, legal guardian or some elderly member of family.