Saving our children

Photo: Curt Carnemark / World Bank

The surge in violence against children in Pakistan is not only deeply concerning but also serves as a stark reminder of the uphill battle we face in securing a brighter future for our nation.

Our children, the very embodiment of hope, are subjected to unspeakable horrors on a daily basis, and it is imperative that we confront this crisis with unwavering urgency.

One cannot forget the heart-wrenching case of Fatima Fariro, a victim of sexual abuse and murder, that has sent shockwaves across the country. Similarly, the case of Rizwana, a child domestic labourer subjected to torture, has garnered attention from politicians and the media.

In both cases, while public outrage echoed through social media platforms, both perpetrators have managed to secure bail. How can such abhorrent crimes go unpunished?

Child abuse in Pakistan is not an isolated incident; it is a pervasive and systemic issue that plagues our society. According to recent reports from child protection organizations, the number of reported cases of child abuse has risen dramatically in recent years. This alarming trend demands immediate action and a comprehensive strategy to protect our children from further harm.

One crucial aspect of addressing this crisis is the need for a robust legal framework that ensures that the rights of children are protected and that perpetrators face swift and severe consequences for their actions. While Pakistan has made progress in enacting laws to safeguard children, their effective implementation and enforcement remain a major challenge.

There is a pressing need to strengthen the judicial system, establish specialized courts for child abuse cases, and foster a culture of accountability to ensure that justice is served for our most vulnerable population.

Furthermore, raising public awareness about child rights and the consequences of child abuse is of paramount importance. It is essential to engage with communities, schools, and religious institutions to promote a culture of zero tolerance towards violence against children.

Education campaigns, workshops, and training programmes should be implemented to equip parents, teachers, and caregivers with the knowledge and skills to identify signs of abuse and provide appropriate support and intervention.

Another critical aspect that cannot be overlooked is the rehabilitation and support services for child victims of abuse. Survivors of abuse often suffer from long-lasting physical, emotional, and psychological trauma. It is our duty as a society to provide them with the necessary support and resources to heal and rebuild their lives. This includes access to counselling services, medical care, safe shelter, and educational opportunities that empower them to overcome their traumatic experiences and reintegrate into society.

In addition to these measures, collaboration and coordination among various stakeholders are vital. Government agencies, civil society organizations, religious leaders, and the media must work together to create a united front against child abuse. This requires sharing information, pooling resources, and fostering a collective commitment to prioritize child protection at all levels. Moreover, it is crucial to address the root causes that contribute to the vulnerability of children to abuse, such as poverty, illiteracy, and social inequality. By tackling these underlying issues, we can create a society that is more inclusive, equitable, and protective of its children.

The battle to protect our children and uphold their rights is an unyielding one. It requires a sustained effort, unwavering commitment, and the collective will of our society. We must act now, not only for the children who have already suffered but also for generations to come.

Let us raise our voice, demand justice and stand up for the innocence that is being eroded from our children. Each child is a precious gift, deserving of love, protection, and opportunities to thrive.

Together, we can build a future where cruelty against children has no place, and their rights are upheld without compromise. The time to act is now, for the battle for the innocent is one that cannot be lost.

The writer is a political activist and human rights defender

Published at The News on 9th September 2023 by Malaika Raza

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