700,000 children in Punjab are living on streets

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LAHORE: Speakers at a seminar and panel discussion have called for more effective enforcement of existing laws and collective action to control child trafficking, child labour and child marriages.

In the event organised by the Sustainable Social Development Organisation (SSDO), in collaboration with the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (CPWB), and the US Embassy, Islamabad, speakers said there were around 700,000 street children in Punjab and stressed urgent protective measures and dismantling of the child trafficking mafia.

Punjab Assembly Speaker Malik Ahmed Khan announced that a bill against child marriage would soon be passed by the Punjab Assembly, facilitating the prosecution of those involved in these crimes.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was also signed between the Punjab Assembly and SSDO to strengthen the capacity of the members of the Punjab Assembly on the issues of peace and sustainable development in Punjab.

Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Zaheer Iqbal Chanar, Senator Bushra Anjum Butt and MPA Khurram Virk stressed the importance of all the stakeholders playing a role in addressing these issues and raising awareness among the parents and children.

They noted that mere formulation of laws was insufficient because all sections of society as a whole must work together to find permanent solutions to these challenges.

Referring to the ongoing legislative efforts to strengthen children`s rights and the expansion of the bureau`s operations across the province, CPWB Chairperson Sarah Ahmad called for concerted efforts from the judiciary, police and prosecution in handling the cases of child violence and exploitation.

SSDO Executive Director Syed Kausar Abbas underscored the need for public awareness regarding child trafficking and the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act 2018. She highlighted severe consequences of child trafficking, including increased violence and abuse against children and domestic child workers.

The MPAs and other participants also stressed the need to adopt a zero-tolerance policy against the mafia involved in child labour and trafficking. They highlighted the need to provide social security to children and their parents who fell victim to these challenges, urging both the government and civil society to play a proactive role.

Acknowledgement: Published in Dawn News on 31st May 2024.

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