Last Friday, a long list of speakers representing the government as well as the society vocally advocated the importance of the protection of child rights. The National Child Rights Convention in Karachi 2012 served as a perfect platform to raise a very vital issue. It was suggested at the convention that all political parties in the country must incorporate the protection of child rights in their election manifestos. The speakers rightly stressed that political parties should work towards elimination of child labour and making secondary level education mandatory all over the country. There was also a unanimous demand for measures aimed at curbing incidents of child abuse in the country. Among all the issues facing Pakistani children, abuse is perhaps the ugliest.
One recent example of child abuse is the case of a five-year-old girl who was gangraped in her village in Umerkot early this month. It has been two weeks since the incident took place but the child and her family are still awaiting justice. It has been reported that the accused belongs to an influential political family, which is why the police are unwilling to take him in custody.
In the meanwhile, the child’s misery is compounded by the fact that, despite repeated requests by her family, visitors have been hounding her at a local hospital. Scared to death by strangers after her ordeal, an abused child should be immediately shielded from the public eye. Unfortunately, few of us seem to care. Just recently, a provincial minister visited the child in the hospital along with a sizeable entourage. Unwilling to take action against the culprits, such people have no right to turn that little girl’s misery into cheap publicity for themselves. The National Child Rights Convention has raised all the right issues. For the most part, it remains for the state and its institutions to ensure that these issues are dealt with in the right way.