Chairman CII Calls for Strict Laws Against Child Abduction – Collective Efforts Urged for Child Safety

ISLAMABAD: Dr Qibla Ayaz, the Chairman of Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), has stressed the need for legislation imposing strict punishments in cases of child abuse and abductions to send strong message to the criminals and curb such crimes.
He was speaking at a seminar titled “Addressing the plight of missing children and the corresponding legal framework in Pakistan”, organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with Roshni Research and Development Welfare Organization, commonly known as Roshni Helpline 1138.
The CII Chief said that political instability and social discord create space for evil forces in society to easily commit various crimes, including child abductions and serial abuse. He further said that the high prevalence of illiteracy allows fake religious figures (peers) to prey on aggrieved parents and further adds to their misery.
Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, the Executive Director of SDPI, said the issue of missing children and overall abuse of child rights cannot be resolved by any single institution and only collective wisdom and collaboration can be the effective remedy,
He further said that the diverse professional and social background of the speakers highlights the multi-dimensional nature of the issue and the need for collective as well as individual responsibility.
Tauseef H. Farooqi, the former Chairman of NEPRA, said that public regulators have a massive role to play in this regard. He recalled that NEPRA had taken five key CSR initiatives among which the awareness about missing children through electricity bills has been crucial. He said that loss of a child for a family is much more devastating for a family compared to the death of a child.
Dr Jahanzeb Khan, Director General of Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Agency (ZARRA) said that the agency is mandated to issues alert when a report for a missing child is made through PEMRA, PTA. He informed the audience that law-enforcement agencies are responsible to immediately lodge FIR for missing children and notify to ZARRA. He highlighted that the law-enforcement agencies have notified 2271 cases out of which 1411 children were recovered. He maintained that child rights and child protection are shared responsibilities and any progress in these domains is not possible without the collective efforts.
Dr Syed Kaleem Imam, former Federal Secretary, stressed the need for addressing the root cause of the issue to ensure the safety of the children. He emphasized that understanding and addressing the underlying psychological and social causes behind such predatory behaviour is crucial. Strengthening of law-enforcement must go hand in
hand with scaling up individual responsibility and cognizance. He also suggested the sensitization and capacity building of law-enforcement personnel, especially female police officers.
Dr Tabassum Naz, Director of Schools, Federal Directorate of Education, stressed the need for preventative measures to protect children. We need to identify the weak links which lead to the issue of missing children and address the root cause, she added. She proactive role of children and increasing vigilance over children can save them from such mishaps. She pointed out that our society being male dominant, is more relaxed about the security of boys, which is contributing to the higher prevalence of missing reports among boys.
Earlier, Executive Director of Roshni Helpline 1138, Muhammad Ali, shared that Roshni Helpline has assisted over 20,000 families and successfully recovered 9600+ children nationwide because of the helpline’s innovative campaigns initiated to raise awareness about the issue. This remarkable achievement was made possible through the concerted efforts of volunteers, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders. In 2023, he said, the helpline 1138 received a total of 2633 reported cases, with 658 families still awaiting the return of their loved ones. Notably, 70 per cent of the cases reported in the last five years involved boys, and children aging between 11 to 17. He said according to our findings about 99 per cent missing children are from lower and lower middle classes. He added that male children are more at risk of abduction as compared to female children since boys security is usually taken for granted in our society. percentage. He highlighted the challenges faced by Roshni Helpline, including its awareness for ZARRA Act 2020 which has significantly contributed to the safety, security, recovery, and rehabilitation of missing children in Pakistan.

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