LAHORE: Members of the Punjab Assembly (PA) and civil society organisations (CSOs) have agreed to move a bill to get a commission for protection of child rights established in the province.
This consensus was achieved during a three-day workshop organised by the Child Rights Movement (CRM-Punjab) on Tuesday.
Eleven MPAs from different political parties, CSOs representatives and CRM Punjab officials attended the workshop that evolved an action plan for bringing positive changes in the state of child rights in Punjab by working jointly and with the collaboration and technical assistance of the CRM.
Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (CPWB) Chairperson Saba Sadiq will lead the efforts for the establishment of the Punjab Commission on the Rights of the Child through an act of the provincial assembly.
However, it was also agreed that group members would meet with the PA speaker to notify the formation of an MPAs’ caucus on child rights and protection in the assembly with all of the members present in the workshop as its members. It was also agreed that joint efforts would be made for getting the Punjab Child Protection Policy approved by the cabinet.
Focusing on health issues, the group agreed that there was a need to increase the number of Lady Health Workers (LHW) in Punjab Province and that this issue would be raised in the Punjab Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Authority meetings and also at other relevant forums to ensure allocation for the LHWs in the provincial budget.
It agreed that number of community midwives (CMWs) should be increased to ensure that every pregnant woman has access to a trained birth attendant in the province where there is a requirement of at least 15,000 CMWs. It also called for immediate approval of the Punjab Multi Sector Nutrition Strategy.
It stressed that the Punjab Protection of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition (Amendment) Act, 2012, should be implemented in letter and spirit.
Responding to the child protection situation in the province, the group agreed that steps would be taken for the implementation of the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO), 2000, throughout the province including establishment of exclusive juvenile courts, ensuring budgetary allocation for free legal aid under the JJSO and appointment of male and female probation officers.
It called for appointment of at least one female probation officer in every district of the province to ensure release of maximum number of women and female juveniles on probation.
The group agreed that it would ensure that child domestic labour was notified under the schedule of banned occupations of the Punjab Employment of Children (Amendment) Act, 2011. Similarly, it agreed that elected representatives would also keep an eye on the enactment of the Punjab Prohibition of Child Labour Bill keeping in mind Article 25-A of the constitution and Minimum Age Convention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Furthermore, it agreed that members of the group would play an active role in ensuring that the Punjab Child Marriages Restraint Bill, 2014, and the Punjab Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill were enacted.
It also called for enactment of comprehensive child protection law besides putting in place a child protection system to respond to violations of child rights.
The enactment of Punjab Right to Free and Compulsory Education Ordinance, 2014, with budgetary allocation for its implementation across the province was also agreed during the workshop.
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