The Frontier Post
Published Date: Nov 9, 2012
SPEAKERS FOR STATE MECHANISM TO PROTECT MISSING CHILDREN
Speakers highlighted the issue of ‘Missing Children’, and asked the government to devise, strengthen and sensitize state response mechanism and educate society to secure and protect missing Pakistani children.
They said, thousands of children go missing every year in Pakistan but still it is the least acknowledged issue due to lack of understanding and information on the part of the society. The speakers expressed these views during a seminar on “Missing Children: A Wakeup Call for Society?” jointly organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute and Roshni Helpline.
The participants were told that missing child is defined as ‘any child under 18 years of age that go out of contact with family’. Hence missing children include children who lost their way home, runaway kids who escaped abuse or unhappy homes, abandoned by families, lost during travel, or abducted by criminals for ransom, begging, bonded labour or sexual trafficking.
The speakers were of the view that these missing children are subjected to worst kind of torture, sexual abuse, exploitation and labour. It was also highlighted that many children are never brought to the notice of the police.
The participants were apprised about the worsening missing child situation in Karachi through official statistics from Karachi city and which shows that 2211 children were reported missing from Karachi city alone in year 2011 adding that recovery ratio of these missing children is less than 4%.
President Roshni Helpline Muhammad Ali, talked of lack of understanding and low response from law enforcement agencies and shared his observation that police handles missing children’s case as a non-cognizable offence and most of the times refuse to lodge an FIR. He said, police officers are least educated about child rights, its related laws, modern techniques and standard operating procedures to handle the cases of missing children and even often don’t treat missing children as a crime. He advised parents to immediately inform police to find missing child as initial three hours are vital in finding and rescuing the children. He said, most of the runaway children leave their homes because of financial constraints of the family, or physical, sexual and emotional violence at home or in schools or Madrassas.
Director World Affairs, Pakistan Television Dr Moeed Pirzada while chairing the proceedings said that the severity of situation demands sensitizing all stakeholders including the society as a whole and where media can play positive role in drawing attention and educating so that our kids are secured at homes, madrassa’s, and on the streets.
Speaking at the occasion, Fazal Noor, from UN Habitat Pakistan said that the country needs a proper system of search and rescue of missing children beside social entrepreneurships and civic education of the society. He also advised parents to take picture of their kids very year to be used in such misfortune situations where picture ID is the only source of identification for small children.