GNRC Pakistan made its TV morning show debut, appearing on Lahore News’ popular Jaago Lahore show on March 22nd 2022. The GNRC, represented by Mr. Iftikhar Mubarik, Co-Coordinator of GNRC Pakistan and Director of Search for Justice; and Ms. Rashida Qureshi, GNRC Member and Program Manager for Search for Justice, took the opportunity to highlight the state of children protection in the country.
Children in Pakistan are vulnerable to several forms of violence — physical, psychological, sexual — as well as exploitation, including economic exploitation and child trafficking. According to UNICEF, about 3.3 million Pakistani children are trapped in child labor, depriving them of their childhoods, health and education, and condemning them to a life of poverty.“ Almost a quarter of all Pakistani women currently aged 20-49 were married before the age of 15! This must stop, we must change these practices,” Mr. Mubarik said in the interview.
“Only 34% of children under five are registered at birth nationally.” – UNICEF
Likewise, Ms. Qureshi noted that educating communities on the harmful nature of certain cultural norms, as well as working with the government to provide quality education for all, can positively alter the course for future generations. Ms. Qureshi pointed out that social media had facilitated the agenda of civil society organizations working in child protection. Online media, she noted, has given them wider reach and access to vulnerable children and youth.
Search For Justice’ top priority is protecting all children in Pakistan from all forms of violence, neglect and exploitation. Along with other civil society organizations, Search for Justice has been working with the Punjab Government to ensure that there is public coordination on child protection, particularly in streamlining and aligning case management and referral systems with international standards.
Mr. Mubarik took the opportunity to explain the work of Search for Justice in relation to implementing the GNRC Panama Declaration on Ending Violence Against Children. He encouraged the public to make use of the Child Helpline – 1121 – to report and help security agencies identify child abusers. The helpline exists to provide prompt assistance and support to children subjected to violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect. It also provides information and guidance on child rights.