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NCSW Forms A Core Group Of CSOs For Consolidated Efforts To End Child Sexual Abuse

ISLAMABAD: National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) on Tuesday formed a core group of civil society organizations (CSOs) for initiating consolidated and sustainable efforts to end child sexual abuse (CSA).

The core group was created at an urgent meeting of civil society organizations, representatives of law enforcement agencies and human rights activists called by the NCSW Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz to discuss progress of Zainab’s case and future strategy for quick response towards any such unfortunate incident. The meeting was attended by a large number of civil society representatives and activists. 

One of the major role of the core group would be to map the work that has already been done in this regard at different platforms; besides devising a sustainable strategy to address such incidents in future at institutional, structural, legal and social level.  The group would also work on listing of vulnerable groups that suffer acute forms of sexual abuse but have largely been ignored by government, media and the society such as disabled persons and transgender community.

Participants of the meeting strongly condemned the incident and urged the government to take concrete measures for zero tolerance towards child sexual abuse. They urged media to respect privacy of the victim and his or her family, avoid sensationalism and ensure constant follow up of the story of such cases so that a social change can be achieved through media awareness.

Sharing the alarming statistics on CSA, Mumtaz Gohar from Sahil said that in first six months of 2017, 1764 cases of CSA were reported in the country. Among them, 129 cases were reported in Kasur including 12 cases of murder after sexual assault. “Unfortunately, the number of unreported cases may be in millions,” he said.

Sharing his experience of working with law enforcement agencies and community in CSA issues, Babar Bashir from Rozan said that in most of the cases, the first point of contact for families is the credible community based organization connected with health services and law enforcement agencies. He suggested raising awareness on CSA through schools.

Valarie Khan from GD Pakistan said that a comprehensive National Action Plan to address CSA was formulated in 2006 which was never implemented as it was not adopted by the provinces after devolution. She pointed out that all committees and setups formed by the government for child protection lack participation of experts. She stressed to first define the ‘child’ and ‘child sexual abuse’ in the constitution. 

Member Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Women Action Forum Nasreen Azhar said that the fact that CSA is endemic in our society was never accepted by the relevant stakeholders. Eminent activist Tahira Abdullah suggested to list down long, medium and short term strategies to combat CSA. Rabeea Hadi from Aurat Foundation and rights activist Rakhshinda Parveen stressed to include persons with disabilities in all CSA response systems.

The participants appreciated the formation of a committee on gender and child issues in Islamabad Police Department but said that such initiatives should be institutionalized.  



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