Violence against children has no boundaries
LAHORE: It has been said that one learns far more in a journey than one can from a textbook. And to make a special journey with individuals having varied excellence in their fields was truly an unforgettable experience. I recently had the honour and traversed with these fine individuals who have since become friends to the fascinating Kingdom of Bhutan for a captivating workshop that was organised by SAARC Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC).
Pakistan has already ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1990 and is also a party to the SAARC convention on regional arrangements for promotion of child welfare in South Asia.
Violence against children is a phenomenon that goes beyond the boundaries of the third world and is now a global crisis. The rights of a child and violence against children are some issues, which have not been raised or addressed by Pakistani society. What is seen or rather heard in whispers by all of us is only 20 percent of the actual violence which children face. This violence has many forms. Many children are afraid to report it as fear is closely related to the stigma frequently attached to reporting violence.
Children are mostly harmed at six places: houses, schools and educational institutions, care and justice institutions, workplaces, community and warfare. We have to understand that early exposure to violence is critical, because it can have a lasting and negative impact on the architecture of a maturing brain. In a case of prolonged violence, including witnessing violence, the disruption of nervous system can lead to social, emotional and cognitive impairments, as well as behaviour that cause disease injury and other related social problems. It has been stated, “Children are like wet cement, whatever falls on them makes an impression.”
Our delegation consisted of 6 individuals, three each from the government and NGOs. The agenda and aim of this delegation was to discuss and present a project to SAIEVAC, which would be implemented in each member country of SAARC. The objectives of this delegation was to discuss and address a number of issues including, Funds given to member countries to highlight and protect violence against children.
This fascinating workshop was a unique learning experience and was inaugurated by Bhutan’s Education Minister HE Lyuno Thankur S Powdyl. His speech was remarkable and he said, “Make islands of excellence for children. Make children assets not liabilities, give children opportunities to reach their full potential, create basic minimum standards of the rights of the Children.”.
The most important thing is that we need to make a beginning to start to create awareness. We need to have the legal frame work set up within a limited time with the necessary checks and balances in place to implement the rights of a child effectively. Pakistan is desirous to play a leading role in the region for ending violence against children. The project aim is to make Pakistan a child friendly nation, besides strengthening regional efforts for ending violence against children. The participation of our delegation was highly lauded and appreciated by the SAIEVAC chairman.
He has since very kindly nominated me to be the advisor for SAIEVAC for the entire region. This is a great honour for our country and I am truly humbled by the task that has been assigned to me. pr