The Juvenile Justice System Ordinance, 2000 defines that a child is a person less than eighteen years of age. The condition of children is highly pathetic in our country. Most of them don’t have any access to education. Healthcare for a majority of them is non-existent. Infant mortality rate is alarmingly high. Child labor is rampant in every nook and corner of the country. Violence in schools and madrassas is very common. Children are often the victims of sexual abuse as well. This is how the future pillars of our nation are being treated these days.
No Society can hope to prosper without focussing on the development of its human resources. Our nation is badly ignoring our new generation. Education, the basic tool of an individual, is out of the reach of a common man in our country.
The state run institutions do not have enough funds to meet the requirement of our population. With only 2.5 per cent of our GDP, we cannot hope to equip our youngsters with the education of international standard. This low financial allocation Combined with the uninspiring political leadership is devastating the situation. The most valuable segment of the society is so poorly funded that there is little hope that our country will ever compete with the developed countries in the fields of science and technology. Our survival depends on our progress in these fields.
Child Abusing & Labouring
Child labour is the worst form of child abuse in our Society. We have the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance and the Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance. But in spite of these laws, the foul practice of child labour is seen everywhere in Pakistan. Poverty-stricken families in villages as well as towns cannot afford to give books in the hands of their children. They are, in fact, forced to deposit them to some place of work or to some big household. In this way, these children become helpful in contributing their share to their families’ resources.
While at work, these innocent beings are exposed to insult and violence of every type. Physical abuse, beatings and psychological torture adversely affect their physical growth. Such children are never in a position to enjoy the blessings of childhood. Some harmful traditional practices in our society also put children under constant threats. Bonded labour is one of these curses. It is a frequent scene to find children working on farms in harsh weather. Similarly, streets in towns are also full of Small girls and boys who are struggling to take care of their families.
In Punjab, we have the Destitute and Neglected Children’s Act, but even then the children are deprived of their legal rights. A couple of bills regarding child protection are soon going to be introduced in the National Assembly. Hopefully, they will become laws within a short period of time.
Nothing brings a smile to a child’s face but the sight of his favorite plaything. Not to speak of toys, more than eighty percent of our ill-fated cannot even get the necessities of life. Proper food for nourishment and adequate healthcare are available to a few fortunate children. If unfortunately, a child is handicapped, he is virtually isolated by society. Orphans find themselves unprotected. The arrangements made by the government for special children and orphans are quite negligible.
Our government and NGOs should do greater efforts to make people aware of grave dangers that are bound to spoil our future generation. The people of a country are its main strength. If they succeed in realizing the social evils that surround the youngsters of our population, they will certainly devise some effective means to eradicate them. Only the strong will-power of the whole nation can take us out of the Wilderness of child abuse.