Child protection: role of media
PAKISTAN ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on Nov 12, 1990. As a signatory, Pakistan should implement the convention in all parts of the country.
Unfortunately Pakistan’s progress towards the implementation of the convevtion has been weak on most counts. It is evident from the concluding observations and recommendation of the Committee on Pakistan’s Periodic Report in 2003 and 2009 that the recommendations were implemented insufficiently, partly resulting in poor progress on the implementation of the UNCRC.
The increasing oppression against the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society requires immediate and effective measures at many levels.
The first step would be to put in place child-specific and broadbased legislative and institutional framework that addresses every aspect of child protection.
There is also a need to introduce a separate law to deal with sexual abuse of the child. Accessible and quality shelters should be made for victims of sexual abuse and other forms of exploitation.
These should include programmes for counselling and physical and psychological recovery and social integration and rehabilitation of victims.
The Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance should be amended to include specific provisions for trafficking of children, including trafficking within the country.
There is also a need for comprehensive legislative development to ban child labour in all sectors of the economy.
Child domestic labour is one of the worst forms of child labour. There is a growing demand for child domestic labourers who are preferred over adult workers because it is considered that they are more obedient, argue less and work endlessly for little or sometimes no wages.
Domestic legislation does not adequately distinguish between child work and child labour. Hundreds of children are already employed in this hidden sector in Pakistan and there is an alarmingly large population of out-of-school children, particularly in rural areas, who are vulnerable to becoming child domestic labourers.
Lack of proper monitoring of child labour even in the formal sector has remained the main reason for the increase in child labour in the country.
Since the implementation of the Employment of Children Act (ECA) 1991, not a single exclusive labour officer has been appointed under the Factories Act and Shops and Establishment Act to monitor child labour in the formal sector.
Unfortunately a huge number of child labourers are working without any legal protection and monitoring.
The media can play a role as a facilitator to ensure the access of children towards their rights. There is a great need to launch nationwide sustained media campaigns to discourage the culture of violence against children.
The media, particularly TV channels, can highlight these issues through their talk shows to sensitise the public on such important and unattended issues so that people’s representatives can be persuaded to to take necessary measures for child protection.