Saturday September 30, 2023

Dialogue on challenges children face today held

September 20, 2023

Islamabad:In a dedicated effort to address child protection, a dynamic panel discussion took place in Islamabad on Monday by Islamic Relief Pakistan. This event brought together experts, advocates and stakeholders from various fields to engage in a crucial dialogue surrounding child rights. The aim was to shed light on the challenges children face today, particularly in relation to child protection and to explore effective strategies to ensure their well-being. The conversation was around creating an equal and inclusive environment, ensuring that children inherit a future that is rich in promise, compassion and unity.

The panel discussion culminated in a powerful call to action, urging individuals, organisations and policymakers to prioritise child protection in their actions and decisions. The event emphasised on promoting a more nurturing environment for children.

Mehnaz Akber Aziz, former Member of the National Assembly, was the chief guest on the occasion. She appreciated the work of Islamic Relief and encouraged everyone to make a safe space for children in real world as well in cyberspace.

The panellists including Dr. Akbar Nasir Khan, Inspector General of Islamabad Police, Sharafat Ali Chaudhry, Advocate High Court and Legal Adviser for National Commission on the Status of Women, Dr. Faryal Umbreen, Assistant Professor at International Islamic University, Fe’reeha Idrees journalist and anchor and Khalid Naeem, Member of National Commission on the Rights of Children, shared their perspectives on various aspects of child protection.

Dr. Akbar Nasir Khan, IG Islamabad Police, highlighted the awareness around domestic child labour in the society. He asked the attendees a very insightful question that; “Why a child the same age as your own child, serving you and your child?”, drawing attention to how it is a norm to employee children to do domestic chores. He added that the children should be in school studying. He asked everyone to call out if someone in their family has a child working for them.

Sharafat Ali Chaudhary - Advocate High Court and Legal Advisor for National Commission on the Status of Women, enlightened us with the laws explaining section 328A in Pakistan, which addresses psychological harm to children and carries a punishment ranging from one to three years. He added, “One can take action under the section 376, when witnessing a crime against a child.” He stressed that inaction when witnessing a crime is also a punishable offense.

Dr. Faryal Umbreen, Assistant Professor at International Islamic University, emphasized on how religion shapes, guides and helps protect children from harm. She said, “Islamic laws and principles provide the best protection mechanism for children." "We have 7-8 institutes for differently abled children in Islamabad which are not affordable", said Khalid Naeem, Member of National Commission on the Rights of Children, highlighting the gaps that makes it difficult to protect differently abled children in Pakistan. He hinted that differently abled children are often neglected and they face many challenges on daily basis but they have little to none resources and facilities.

Fe’reeha Idrees, drew attention to our cultural values that are being shown in media and are malpractices; for example; child marriages, domestic child labour etc. "If something is prevalent, we should not make it acceptable", she said. Idrees talked about how numerous practices that have been followed and is a prevalent part of our society are not correct. She insisted that we should call out the wrong practices and question them instead of normalising them.

Country Director Islamic Relief Pakistan, Asif Sherazi highlighted the organization’s flagship program; ‘Orphan Support Programme’ emphasizing on the company’s mission and vision that is focused on children. The programme initially supported 30 orphans. Today, the impact has grown significantly, as they now provide support to 7,000 orphans.