Child Protection in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Aawaz-II Provincial Consultation
The KP Child Protection & Welfare Act was passed in 2010 by the Provincial Assembly to care, protect, provide maintenance & welfare, train, educate, rehabilitate and reintegrate children at risk in the province. As required by the law an autonomous KP Child Protection & Welfare Commission was established in 2011 and given executive authority to administer and manage child protection matters. Aawaz-II organized a (remote) consultation to shape advocacy pathways to improve the effectiveness of child protection measures in KP.
- “Staff are being recruited for the Child Protection Units (CPUs). A dedicated 24/7 helpline 1121 has also been set up in 12 KP districts,” said Mr. Ijaz Khan, Chief Protection Officer, KP Child Protection & Welfare Commission. Mr. Imran Takkar, Regional Head, Group Development in KP said that greater public recognition of child sexual abuse has resulted in increased formal reporting of incidents. Ms. Sana Ahmad, Coordinator, Child Rights Movement-KP stressed the need for collective action.33 participants included members of Aawaz-II’s provincial and district forums, district partners, UN representatives and other stakeholders. The consultation recommended the following actions:
- Government and Civil society collaborative initiatives:
- Government of KP has included child protection as a priority agenda in the Peshawar Revival Plan, civil society can jointly give recommendations for prevention or referral mechanisms.
- Recently, Blue Veins, Aawaz–II district partner has been given the responsibility of Child Right Movement (CRM) Secretariat, hence the CRM secretariat platform can be widely used to raise issues and press for action.
- A survey on child sexual abuse was conducted in 1996, another one is now planned.
- UNICEF is working on improving the system in KP. For example, it is supporting better reporting and response of cases.UNICEF will also undertake a survey of child protection in KP.
- UNICEF has modelled a psychosocial system with the Health Department in response to COVID-19. Its helpline 1700 Ext #3needs to be widely disseminated so that it may serve people better.
Required Legislation and better Implementation of laws and policies:
- The KP Child Protection & Welfare Commission (KPCPWC) was formed under the KP Child Protection & Welfare Act 2010. Follow up is needed for making it fully functional, for example, regularization of key staff & holding regular meetings. There is also a need for consistent discussion to ensure the legislation is updated and remains relevant to changing issues and circumstances.
- Follow up action and lobbying is also needed to ensure Child Protection Units (CPUs) are established across all districts of KP. There is also a need for greater number of CP Courts.
- A strong recommendation was also raised to set up a desk for reporting Child Sexual Abuse cases separately in all police stations.
- The draft legislation on restraining child marriage was discussed by the provincial Cabinet. It was sent for amendments based on comments made. Continued follow up is needed to expedite the formulization of the law. Aawaz-II, CRM and other related stakeholders should play an active role in this process.
- The existing Child Helpline – 1121 which responds to issues of children subjected to violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect, needs to extend coverage in all districts of KP.
- Ensure allocations for child protection are made in the provincial budget, and are effectively utilized.
- Build prosecution capacity so that perpetrators are duly penalized, as per law.
- Psychosocial support for children and also parents needs to be widely provided.
Behavioural Change Campaigning and initiatives:
- There is a need for public awareness about the negative impacts of “public hanging” and such calls for further violence.
- Suggestions and recommendations can be given to the public awareness campaign developed by KPCPWC, which also engages a broad range of stakeholders including police, education department, civil society, etc.
- There is a dire need increase community sensitization and awareness on laws and institutional mechanisms for prevention of CSA. Aawaz Agahi Centres can play an important role in creating awareness.
- Need to influence curriculum for creating awareness about CSA and its prevention.
- CRM needs to be strengthened by building better synergies among all stakeholders. Youth groups are to be extensively engaged in campaigns and activities.