Thursday Jul 04 2019

Mazari says Pakistan No 1 in child pornography, urges dialogue about child abuse

ISLAMABAD: Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said Thursday Pakistan, unfortunately, was No 1 in child pornography and, therefore, urged to initiate a dialogue about the menace of child abuse.

Speaking at the launching ceremony of the Child Protection Campaign here in the federal capital, Mazari said, "This matter is in every stratum of our society. The menace of child pornography is in every stratum of our society."

The minister explained that incidents of child abuse were increasing, that Pakistan was No 1 in terms of child pornography, and that, in that light, it was shameful that "we call ourselves Muslims".

She noted that a campaign should be run in government schools and that the society needed to get out of shells to hold a dialogue on child abuse.

"In order to put an end to incidents of sexual abuse of children, we need to launch collective efforts," she added.

The minister explained that there was a rise in the number of child abuse incidents but neither was there a conversation with children about this matter nor a dialogue on any other level.

"We don't even talk to children about child abuse, at any level or schools or households.

"Development is meaningless if children are not safe from abuse," she stressed. She further mentioned that "we will analyse all complaints of child abuse that come our way" at the ministry.

Mazari added that it was sad that the Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Act, 2019, was still stuck in the National Assembly's Standing Committee for Human Rights and not passed yet.

"Its chairperson is Bilawal Bhutto Zardari," Mazari said, adding that there should be no politics on matters pertaining to children.

"Hope the bill returns to the Assembly soon. If there's law, punishments can be awarded" in accordance with that, she noted.

"This message needs to be spread in order to eliminate child abuse."

In addition, the secretary at the Ministry of Human Rights commented that a national action plan for the rights of children has been prepared.

The secretary said bills against child abuse were in the Parliament, and, of those, a noteworthy one was the aforementioned Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Act, 2019.

Social activist and singer Shehzad Roy, who was also present at the event, mentioned that there was a need to break the mental barriers to create awareness about child abuse and sexual assault. "People don't even talk about it with parents and friends," he said.

Noting that the campaign launch was a major effort on part of the human rights ministry, he stated, "Parents should talk to their children about sexual abuse and assault."

Roy noted that one in every five persons in Pakistan was subjected to sexual assault and abuse but, unfortunately, no one talked about it.

"Those who rape and murder should be awarded the strictest of punishments," he added.