‘Youth deserve respect, right to information’

Pakistan Press Foundation

Karachi: A group of around 20 young men and women staged a one-of-a-kind demonstration in front of the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday, catching many an eye due to its unique method of urging parents and guardians to guide them during their formative years.

Sitting amidst colourful stuffed toys and holding placards, the youngsters said they had the right to information and deserved the respect of their parents and guardians. A number of MPAs present at the venue reiterated their support for the cause.

The demo was arranged by a national awareness campaign EHAD, which seeks parents and guardians to provide appropriate knowledge to young men and women in the light of Islamic teachings and cultural values about vital issues like child sexual abuse, challenges of growing up, unhealthy peer pressure, addiction and diseases like Hepatitis and HIV/Aids.

Lack of information on these issues can lead to exploitation, abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, rights violations, ill-informed decisions and untimely deaths. EHAD believes that parents and guardians can play a pivotal role in filling this information gap.

The group later staged a similar demonstration at the Arts Council in connection with the ‘I Am Karachi’ youth festival arranged by the Sindh Youth Affairs Department.

The demo caught special attention of the visitors at the festival for the unique way of raising voice for their rights. Hundreds of visitors gathered around the demonstrators to witness the peaceful demo.

Youngsters aged between 14 and 16 years wore T-shirts displaying various messages in English and Urdu about the challenges they face during growing up and their right to seek correct guidance.

Some of the messages read: ‘Stop treating us like toys before it’s too late’, ‘If my parents don’t guide me, who would?’, ‘Dear Parents! Listen, Understand and Guide’, ‘Dad! Why don’t you have time to listen to me?’, ‘Please help me address my anger, lack of self-confidence, self-esteem and decision-making power’, and ‘Hamraaz Walidain’.

“We held this demo to raise awareness about the basic rights of adolescents and youth to seek guidance about issues like puberty, addiction, peer pressure and sexual abuse,” said Faizan, the leader of the group.

Fifteen-year-old Zain Fatima said: “We want our parents and guardians to come forward and provide us appropriate knowledge about the physical and emotional changes that we undergo while growing up.”

Sherry, a 16-year-old demonstrator, said: “Children pass through a lot of emotional, psychological and physical changes during adolescence. That is a part of growing up. How they handle these changes and the support system they have during this period forms their personalities. It is important that children be given the right to information from the appropriate quarters during this period. Absence of proper guidance or information can lead children astray and can expose them to exploitation.”

Fourteen-year-old Sehrish Rabbani said: “We wanted to do something unique and interesting to attract the public’s attention so that they may be passed our message, so we came up with this innovative idea of a demo.”

A visitor, Farida, said: “I’m impressed with the idea. We must understand our responsibilities towards our children as parents.”

Gulrez Khan, a father of three, said: “The youth of today is no more passive. It is playing a proactive role and we have to address their needs.”

The News