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July 5, 2019

Pakistan number one in child pornography, says minister

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July 5, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari on Thursday said Pakistan, unfortunately, was number one in child pornography and emphasised the need for initiating a dialogue on the menace.

Speaking at the launch of Child Protection Campaign here, Mazari said the menace affected all strata of the society. "This matter is in every stratum of our society.” The minister explained that incidents of child abuse were increasing and that Pakistan was No 1 in terms of child pornography, adding, in that light, it was shameful that "we call ourselves Muslims", Geo News reported. She suggested that a campaign should be launched at the school level to sensitize students to the menace.

She said the society must get out of its cocoon and 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 said in spite of rise in the number of child abuse incidents, no dialogue had been held at any level.

"We even don't talk to children about child abuse at any level or schools or households. Development is meaningless if children are not safe from abuse. We will analyse all complaints of child abuse to the ministry," she stressed.

Mazari said it was sad that Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Act, 2019 was yet to be passed by the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Human Rights. "Its chairperson is Bilawal Bhutto Zardari," Mazari said, adding that there should be nopolitics 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. This message needs to be spread in order to eliminate child abuse," she added.

In addition, the Ministry of Human Rights secretary commented that a national action plan for the rights of children had been prepared. He said bills on child abuse were in Parliament and of those the noteworthy one was Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Act, 2019.

Social activist and singer Shehzad Roy said there was a need to break the mental barriers for creating 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 said, "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.