July 28, 2020
By Staff Reporter
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Child Protection Units were set up in 12 districts in 2011 with the support of UNICEF for a total of six years. However, these units have been inactive since the aid was stopped. Why has the government failed to activate them?
A law was passed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2010 against child abuse, harassment, and child labor, under which child protection units were set up in 12 districts in collaboration with the international organization UNICEF to register and deal with complaints of problems faced by children. However, in 2018, UNICEF cut off aid, but the units also became inactive, with the government merely announcing their rehabilitation, and the issue reached the floor of the Assembly.
“These units should be reinstated as soon as possible,” stated Rehana Ismail, opposition MP of the KP Assembly, decrying the lack of funding and staff that have rendered CPUs non-functional. “It is unfortunate that although child protection laws are passed without opposition, they are rarely ever implemented. Usually, implementation is impeded because of a lack of funding. The government should secure funding for Child Protection Units in the official budget, but that is not the case.”
On the other hand, children’s rights organizations say that the inactivity of the units has led to an increase in violence against children, so the government should take the restoration of these units seriously.
“I believe that to establish district level Child Protection Units is a need of the hour and of the laws. It is a need of the hour as fresh cases of child abuse are being reported across different districts on the daily but there is no central institution that can receive and respond to these cases,” explained Imran Takkar, an organizer for a local NGO working on children’s rights in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “And it is a need of the law as well as the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Act also demands that there should be a Child Protection Unit in every district, not just to spread awareness, but to also coordinate and cooperate with various stakeholders and communities.”
The KP government also took note of the concerns raised by opposition parties and welfare organizations over the inactivity of the Child Protection Unit.
Addressing the KP Assembly, Minister for Social Welfare Hisham Inamullah reiterated his and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan’s concerns over the non-functional status of Child Protection Units in the province. “We have added the necessary amendments according to the summary – as soon as these amendments are approved by the cabinet, all 96 positions currently vacant in Child Protection Units will be filled,” he had stated.
According to the report of the Population Welfare Department, 303 cases of child abuse were identified in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while the child protection units remained active, including 296 cases of boys and 97 cases of girls.