Zia Awan demands role of stakeholders to eliminate crimes against children

KARACHI: The founder of Madadgaar National Helpline and National Child Commissioner Zia Ahmed Awan Advocate on Thursday demanded active role of stakeholders to eliminate crimes against children.

Addressing a press conference at his office, here Thursday, he said rapidly increasing incidents of murder and rape of children is a matter of national concern. He appealed to judiciary to hear the voices of thousands of child victims of sexual violence and take up a Public Interest Litigation filed by Madadgaar National Helpline in year 2017 to establish such mechanisms that ensure protection of all children from all abuse and violence.

He stated that Madadgaar National Helpline took up 71 cases of rape, gang rape, murder in Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab during the year 2016-2017 while our data gathered from across the country depicts a much horrific picture that are about 110 cases of rape, murder, over 900 cases of rape, sodomy and over 400 cases of gang-rape of children were reported.

Other national statistics suggest that 11 children are sexually assaulted every day in Pakistan, he said.

Awan said that Madadgaar National Helpline filed a Public Interest Litigation in the apex court of Pakistan during year 2017 demanding to hold the government departments accountable for all kinds of violence against children by setting up mechanisms and taking measures to eliminate this crime from the country. This petition is yet to be heard, he said.

He recommended that there must be duly notified and authorized committees for child protection established at district level which are adequately funded by the government to address this crime.

He further added that such cases must be heard by the Anti Terrorist Courts (ATC) directly and an amendment in law must be brought forward by the legislature for this purpose.

He highlighted that these cases face delays and injustice due to lack of high-tech forensic systems, labs, medico-legal facilities and inadequate police response. He appealed that special courts must be set up for all cases related to child protection.