25 December, 2010

Children Parliamentarians demand basic Child Rights

Sana Jamal

Islamabad—Children Parliament Pakistan (CPP) demanded the government to ratify direct steps to put a ban on child trafficking, child labour and on involvement of children in armed conflicts. The members (children) of the CPP forwarded these demands in the form of resolutions passed by the members in Islamabad during its second session, held at a local hotel on Friday.

Children’ Parliament Pakistan (CPP) is the first ever initiative by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) to raise awareness and promote child rights in Pakistan.

Major demands by the CPP members included establishment of a Child Affairs Ministry to defend children’s rights; ban on child marriages, wages of child workers to be equal to an adult and complete ban on child prostitution.

The two-day session (Dec23-24) was attended by Dr.Attiya Inayatullah (MNA); Mr. Olaf Kelllerhoff, Country Representative Friedrich Noumann Stifftung; Ms. Rubina Qaimkhani, Chairperson National Assembly Committee on Social Welfare and Special Education & Mr. Anis Jillani, SPARC Board member.
Dr. Attiya (MNA) discussed 18th and 19th amendment in detail and offered proposals to CPP to increase the tenure of CPP to three years and make a sub committee to review the Constitution for necessary amendments. Mr. Olaf congratulated the CPP members on doing a remarkable job for the children of Pakistan.

‘Prime Minister’ of CPP Talha Bin Rizwan forwarded the demands to Ms. Rubina Qaimkhani in order to take children’s opinion in child legislation and to make amendment in Child marriage Restraint Act 1929 to increase the minimum age for marriage.

Members also protested on the disparity in the law in which the minimum age for marriage for girl is 16 years and for boys is 18 years.Rubina Qaimkhani in her keynote address appreciated the dedication of members to the child rights. She noted that “Children are used as tool for terrorism and are the direct victims of terror” hence there is a need to counter these acts through constructive means like CPP. She seemed impressed by the courteous environment of the CPP session and said “these children will prove to be a great asset for Pakistan in future in the form of better politicians and productive citizens.”

Arshad Mahmood, Executive Dir. Of SPARC asked the CPP to become “responsible to voice the demands of the children of Pakistan.” He assured the children that national conference on child rights to be held early next year by the government will be highly effective for recognizing child rights in Pakistan. He also discussed issues of 18th amendment, fund raising for the flood victims especially the children, the cases of corporal punishment in his address.

Anis Jillani in his address said that the major problem of the country was not child rights issue but poverty. Hence “to give voice to the poor section of the country should be the chief cause of CPP”. He offered valuable suggestions for CPP member and advised them to start struggle against child labour from their homes since “charity begins at home.”The event concluded with a press conference when Ms. Qaimkhani and leaders of CPP answered the questions of the media.