Children Under Attack in Pakistan by Satanic Predators – Education Reborn with Life Skills Mainstreamed as ​Human Rights!

by: Qamar Abbas

January 31, 2018

Amidst important global meetings alerting us all to a universal public responsibility for human development, economic growth and education, 2018 has unfolded in Pakistan with bitter challenges that threaten our future; – yes, our children. The Education World Forum in London, World Economic Forum in Davos and the upcoming Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference in Dakar are seen as large scale game changers seeking unique collaborations for innovations and resources for sustainable development. Davos rolled out its theme for 2018 appropriately phrased “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World” for reinventing the human imagination to create cutting edge solutions for sustaining human kind. Sadly, for Pakistan, 2018 began with brutal and ominous happenings to our children. We were shockingly reminded of what plagues our social fabric – yes our children are under severe attack ! As children are being targeted please be reminded that this makes education under attack too, parents will withdraw children if they think that the exposure is extreme for their children- let not this become another Emergency, but perhaps it has already become one, with over 500 cases in Kasur alone since 2015!

The children are now open victims for their predators who are brutally killing them! But who are they? They work by stealth and blatantly, be it the young man Imran, the naat khwan /religious reciter who attacked, raped and killed 7 year old Zainab Amin, left her in a garbage dump in Kasur, or the cleric in the madrassa in Karachi, who subjected 8 year old Mohammad Husain to corporal punishment resulting in his carnal death. Both predators came cloaked in religion of another kind- the kind that kills children- completely satanic in its acts of violence beyond belief. This is not Islam at all- that compels us towards Peace , Huquq ul Ibaad (rights of society) and knowledge, but these acts were Satan’s call that takes away lives so treacherously.

Whilst the Chief Minister Punjab left no stone un turned to find the serial killer Imran in Kasur, in Karachi the cleric was found red handed but was pardoned by none other than the parents of young Husain! Yes Husain had pleaded with his parents to save him from the cleric but they did not listen and kept sending him back to be beaten some more- the 8 year old succumbed finally! The Sindh Govt has fortunately passed the Sindh Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Act, 2017, moved by the fearless parliamentarian Mahtab A Rashdi in the assembly in 2015, so the police had to file the FIR against the cleric. January 2018 has remained a tragic month for many parents beyond those of Zainab and Husain’s; many children were being reported across the country in Mardan, ​Dir, ​in Muzaffargarh being raped and gang raped, brutally assaulted and fighting for their lives. These child martyrs have given a wake up call to our nation, our citizens demanding action. Corporal punishment has to be converted in positive disciplining practices at all levels, it has to be purged from our society with uniform protection laws across the country that are immediately implemented.

In all provinces what was termed as once a taboo and anti religious fohassh subject called life skills based education (LSBE), is now being mainstreamed rapidly through provincial and national platforms by the government; so January 2018 has been active for LSBE in Pakistan. In Punjab, a committee for Safeguarding Childen was formed by the Chief Minister with an Amber Alert System including life skills based education (LSBE); in Sindh the Govt has already begun including LSBE in curriculum of 5-8 grades with teacher training, ICT , KP and Balochistan have also jumped on this important bandwagon to mainstream preventive life skills education. I suppose better late than never to integrate these important topics into curriculum, textbooks and teacher preparation programs; the government has positively taken a 360 degree turn on this being an essential rights based skill for human dignity and protection. LSBE is now mercifully instantly kosher and no more a red flag as seen by extremist right wing groups.

MNA Marvi Memon immediately solicited LSBE /Child rights experts to support a nationwide Social Protection campaign by the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP). BISP is the largest social protection and social safety net stabilisation program for the vulnerable. As BISP​’s​ chairperson Marvi Memon, worked through a rapid response with partners and all parliamentarians to host these jalsas across Pakistan, where information on ‘how to prevent child sexual abuse and corporal punishment together with important hotline numbers for child protection will be shared”. A list of demands have been put up to the Chief Ministers and the Prime Minister as well of what is urgently needed to protect our children – new laws , amendments to existing laws – and ensuring immediate access of all children to the Child Registration Card (CRC) by NADRA through mobile units. The CRC would act as a SMART card ensuring all rights are extended (from birth registration, to immunisation, to school enrolment, protecting the child from corporal punishment, early marriages and child labor as a one window hotline).

Many organizations from civil society, INGOs have been supporting these efforts with local partners (SAHIL, Ahung, ITA, PIDs etc.) in government and private schools for many years. The investment efforts are now paying off as all materials are well tested and aligned for a massive campaign in the homes, communities, schools/madrassas, workplaces, police and judicial systems, creating layers of protection for our extemely vulnerable children. The whole country is up in arms- the Senate is pushing for amendment to laws that clearly do not prevent/punish child abuse.

So Pakistan is not a nation that is passively accepting this ruthless acts of violence against our children who under attack; citizens and government are actively collaborating, working across the length and breadth of the country to transform society into one that is socially responsible, fair and just. They are working in unison, believing in our children, our present and future! Yes the fractures must heal quickly – the satans must be punished and exterminated once and for all- the culture of silence must end on such heinous practices against our children!

Baela Raza Jamil
Commissioner – Education Commission
Founder Children’s Literature Festival (CLF)

Please note definition of Corporal Punishment under the Sindh Act 2017:
(c) “corporal” or “physical” punishment means any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light it may be, which may involve hitting (“smacking”, “slapping”, “Spanking”) a child, with the hand or with an implement (a whip, stick, belt, shoe, wooden spoon, etc) including kicking, shaking or throwing a child, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears. Forcing a child to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scalding or forced ingestion (for example, washing a child’s mouth out with soap or forcing him to swallow hot spices), including mental abuse or any other kind of punishment but not limited to:

(i) “assault” as defined in section 351 of the Pakistan Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860) hereinafter referred to in this section “as the said Code”;

(ii) “hurt as defined in section 332 of the said Code; (iii) “criminal force” as defined in section 350 of the saidCode; and

(iv) other non-physical forms of punishment which are cruel and degrading, for example, punishment which belittles, humiliates, denigrates, scapegoats,
threatens, scares or ridicules the child;