Thu. Jun 4th, 2020

Poor implementation of laws exacerbating children’s vulnerabilities: CRM activists

ISLAMABAD: (PR) The brutal rape of 4-year old minor girl in Islamabad has once again highlighted the need to bring to justice people involved in abuse of children. The victim, who is currently hospitalized, was admitted in critical condition on 9th July 2019 said, Coordinator of Child Rights Movement (CRM).

According to a first information report (FIR), registered at the Bhara Kahu Police Station with her father as the complainant, the child had been sexually abused and strangled when she went outside to play on Monday night. She was found in a critical condition from bushes near her house, the report added. The FIR has been registered under Sections 324 (attempt to murder) and 377b (punishment for sexual abuse) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Mr. Mamtaz Gohar, CRM Coordinator, said that she [the child] was first taken to Poly Clinic Hospital but later on she was shifted to PIMS due to the absence of facilities and doctors in Poly Clinic. So far, no arrests have been made. A medical examination of the victim has been carried out and the report is still awaited.

Mr. Gohar further added that according to National Commission on Rights of Child NCRC Act 2017, a commission should be constituted as soon as possible so that it can exercise its power and perform its functions to be able to provide an effective institutional mechanism not just to monitor implementation of children’s rights, but also laws relating to children’s rights and the administrative agencies responsible.

Mr. Ishtiaq Gilani, CEO-UGOOD, said that violence against children when manifested in forms of sexual abuse gets mired in a mix of social taboos and notions of honor which prevent the victims and their families from reporting the crimes to the authorities. General silence and lack of action allows these cases to proliferate and for the perpetrators to continue the varied forms of abuse with impunity. Misconstrued notions of propriety, morality and honor perpetuated and propagated by families and broader communities limit the space for children to speak out against such crimes, leaving silence as the only resource.

The government should take all necessary measures to check the continuous and unabated wave of sex crimes against children in Islamabad and elsewhere in the country.

Mr. Syed Kausar Abbas (CEO-SSDO) said, ‘We acknowledge the fact that an Awareness campaign on Child Sexual Abuse has been initiated by the government via the federal Ministry of Human Rights, but reiterate that it must be up scaled and further synergized with CSOs to initiate a wide-open debate on Child Sexual Abuse. Currently, the tabooed nature of all discourse on CSA allows perpetrators to continue with their crime without fear of legal repercussions: media and school-level information campaigns can be an effective start to bring CSA issue in mainstream.’

Child Sexual Abuse is a global issue which impacts not only an individual or a family but the whole Society. Eleven children in Pakistan are reported being sexually abused every day, which is just the tip of the iceberg, according to Ms. Sidra Humayoun (Sahil) she also called upon the families especially parents to be vigilant towards their children’s whereabouts in order to minimize the risk of assault.

Specialized educational training programs pertaining to child sexual abuse should be initiated in educational institutions throughout the country. These programs should enlighten children about the issue of child sexual abuse and victimization, including how to react when a sexual offender approaches them. These programs should have components that are not directed towards students but also instructs teachers, parents and other youth services staff in the country.

Mr. Safdar Raza (CRM Member) said, ‘Law enforcement agencies should be sensitized to recognize the seemingly “milder” forms of Child Sexual Abuse and to ensure the protection of victims of CSA. Effective monitoring and accountability of law enforcement agencies should be initiated to ensure that members of law enforcement agencies are willfully ignorant of or complicit in the sexual abuse of vulnerable children.

Moreover, he added that the preamble to Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, includes the clause to provide for “speedy trial of heinous offenses”. Rape and sexual violence against children should be added to Section 6 of the ATA so that it may be prosecuted with the same vigilance given to perpetrators of acts of terror.

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