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Militancy keeps 600,000 KP children out of school

Special Report
September 16 2012



PESHAWAR, Sept 11: Around 600,000 children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have missed one or more years of education due to militancy, according to a report on ‘The State of Pakistan’s Children-2011’.

The report, which was launched during a special function organised by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child at the Peshawar Press Club on Tuesday, said a total of 710 schools had been destroyed or damaged by militants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“A total of 640 schools were destroyed in Malakand, while 70 educational institutions were destroyed or damaged in various other districts across the province.

In Swat, 121 schools were completely destroyed, while another 280 were partially damaged by militants over a span of two years,” it said.

According to the report, almost 25 million children are currently out of school in the country and of them, seven million had yet to receive any form of primary schooling.

About juvenile justice system, it said the number of juveniles detained in prisons increased from 1,225 in 2010 to 1,421 in 2011. The detainees included 1,256 under trial and 165 convicted juveniles.

“In 2011, Punjab had the highest number of juvenile offenders (833), followed by Sindh (318), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (241) and Balochistan (40),” it said.

The report said progress on approving laws for establishment of borstals in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remained stalled in 2011.

It also pointed out that in parliament, the Prisons Amendment Bill dealing with children of incarcerated parents was introduced in 2010, but there had been no development on it since.

The report said FCR and Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation should be abolished immediately and the role and power of the political agents should be restricted to limited administrative matters with no role in judicial matters.

“Also, children under 18 years of age should be removed from the ambit of the anti-terrorism and control of narcotics substance laws,” it said, adding that bills for establishing borstals and increasing the minimum age of criminal responsibility must be vetted and adopted by the provincial assemblies and parliament.

The report said the federal and provincial governments must allocate funds for the administration of juvenile justice; Child Protection (Criminal Laws) Amendment Bill should be passed, and the government should establish the National Commission on the Rights of Children by approving the National Commission on the Rights of Children Bill.

Jamaat-i-Islami Khyber Pakhtunkhwa naib ameer Mushtaq Ahmed Khan was the chief guest at the report launch, where speakers said flood relief policies and programmes should have special focus on communities vulnerable to floods.

The also called for immediate relocation and rehabilitation of people taking refuge in school buildings should be initiated to allow schools to resume their educational functions.

Jehanzeb of Sparc presented major findings of the report and said various child related issues in the country had been summarily ignored by the successive governments.

He said there was room for improvement as formative efforts could be institutionalised through political will to protect the rights of the children in the country.

According to him, ratification of the optional protocol of UNNCRC on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, adoption of the prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act, 2011 and amendments in the Frontier Crimes Regulation, 1901 were some of the major achievements in 2011.

Mr Jehanzeb said in 2011, floods and militancy in some of the most underdeveloped parts of the country presented new challenges to child rights activists and development organizations working for children.

“For instance, flood alone affected 4.8 million people, half of them children (an estimated 500,000 below the age of five years),” he said.

He said a plethora of issues relating to different forms of violence against children show the dearth of government legislation needed to address them. In 2011, he said a total of 2,303 instances of sexual abuse were recorded from various parts of the country.

According to him, the number of acid attacks rose from 65 to 150 in 2011, while latest statistics also reveal that 24 per cent of women between the ages of 20-24 years were married before the age of 18 years in Pakistan.

“These issues call for a multi-pronged approach that amalgamates educational and awareness initiatives with policy level interventions to counteract culturally and socially entrenched issues relating to child related issues,” he said.

Mr Mushtaq said all segments of the society should join hands to overcome the vulnerable population of the country.

Originally published by Dawn Pakistan

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