Media workshop on child rights and child protection -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Media workshop on child rights and child protection

LAHORE: A child protection bill has been drafted after consultation with all the stakeholders to provide the institutional framework for the protection of children and a better environment for their growth.

This was stated by M Ashraf Ali Khan, Joint Secretary ministry of Social Welfare here Thursday while addressing ‘Media workshop on child rights and child protection’ jointly organised by National Commission for Child Welfare and Development (NCCWD), Ministry of social welfare and special education and Plan Pakistan at a local hotel.

National policy for child welfare has also been shaped out after consulting stakeholders, including civil society, media, corporate and private sector etc. This policy will ensure protection of children, prevention of abuse, as well as rehabilitation of abused children, said the official. The new bill aims to facilitate the continuous efforts of the government for child protection and thus meet its international obligations as Pakistan has signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, he said.

Dilating on media importance for highlighting child issues, the Joint Secretary said that the new bill also proposes a set of media ethics which are “not regulatory” but more of a guidance to protect the rights and privacy of the children who are victim of violence and abuse. Talking to journalists, he said his ministry plans to establish 26 Child protection centres in the country after in-depth consultation and cooperation of the provinces.

However, he said the project’s materialisation depended on the availability of the funds as the initiative would estimated cost about 40 million rupees.

Addressing the workshop, Director NCWD Sajjad Ahmad said that, a National Child Protection Centre has been set up in Islamabad on pilot basis to rescue and recover children suffering violence and abuse and to provide them rehabilitation and reintegrate them in mainstream society.

However, he admitted that service delivery structure of the NCWD was somewhat weak. “In order to meet these needs relevant steps are being taken and the composition of this body working under the social welfare ministry is also being altered to usher improvement”. he explained.

Chairperson Child Protection and Welfare Bureau, Dr Faiza Asgher said that so far 9351 street children who needed help were rescured from conditions of abuse by this institution, while 8694 children have been re-united with their parents since 2005 in Punjab.

She said so far more than 900 former camel jockeys have been brought back to the country and till December this year the compensation packages ranging from US $ 1000 and more will be disbursed among the listed 400 such children who suffered injuries during the camel races.

Child Protection and Welfare Bureau and its branches are operating now in Gujranwala, Multan, Rawalpindi, Rahim Yar Khan, Faisalabad and are being set up in Sialkot and Bahawalpur, she highlighted. Dr Faiza said a family support programme, initially for 10,000 families of street children,who were without bread earners, will be taken up in near future and that Punjab government has approved this two-year project.

“The helpline 1121 valid for Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi can be called to report about destitute or street children engaged in beggary or drug abuse”, she said. DG CPWB, Muhammad Khalid said that according to a survey there were 10,000 destitute children on the streets of Lahore in 2005 and 4,000 were beggars.

Later, talking to APP, Dr Faiza Asghar said this institution has its record of independent audits of the funds used and stressed the need that initiatives taken for the protection of children needed continuity and urged media to mobilise all stake holders in this regard. Director NCCWD Khalid Latif, Safdar Raza from Plan Pakistan and others spoke on the occasion. A number of media representatives, including district correspondents, NGO activists, students and government officials attended the workshop.
Source: The Post