The legislative body of upper house of parliament on Tuesday regretted over rising tendency of child sexual abuse across the country and demanded of the government to take appropriate measures to address the issue. It was revealed that in 2017, 3,445 cases of child sexual abuse were registered, out of which 60 percent were female children and 40 percent comprised males. The meeting of the Senate Special Committee on the issue of increasing incidents of child abuse was held at parliament lodges with Senator Nuzhat Sadiq in chair. Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, Senator Sitara Ayaz, Senator Muhammad Ali Khan Saif, Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen, Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Senator Sherry Rehman, Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed and senior officers of the Ministry of Human Rights along with all concerned attended the meeting. The meeting commenced with a briefing by the Ministry of Human Rights, followed by another presentation made by the National Commission of Human Rights. According to the Ministry under the 18th Amendment, the subject of minors/children had been transferred to provinces, which has made monitoring difficult, since provinces in most cases fail to provide adequate data. Lack of funds was another reason. Deliberating upon cases in Punjab, the percentage of which was highest in the whole country, Sitara Ayaz questioned the reason for the rise in cases in Kasur and said that it was imperative to conduct a survey to get to the root cause. She stressed the need for implementation of laws. Senator Sherry Rehman was of the opinion that this is an extremely important issue and the statistics mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. This matter, she said, merits seriousness. She stated that in Zainab’s case, public hanging was not feasible because both the Supreme Court and the Federal Shariat Court had termed any such action a violation of Article 14. She said Pakistan would also risk revoking of its GSP+ status. Senator Muhmmad Ali Khan Saif said that to ensure children are protected in Pakistan, it is imperative that the government and the civil societies of Pakistan initiate a consultative, interactive process. He stressed the need to consolidate all available data on human rights and chalk out terms of reference so that focus is maintained. He further stated that for things to move forward, it was imperative that members of the committee intervened when and where needed rather than leave everything to the government. Rana Maqbool stated that the Child Protection Bureau operating under the government is the best model and must be replicated in the rest of the country. While deliberating over drawbacks in preventing such cases and taking culprits to task, the local thana system was termed a major impediment. It was asserted that this system needs to be addressed at the earliest. The committee recommended that a course on child protection must be included in the school syllabi. Sensitisation of teachers to this issue was stressed as well. It was asserted that parliamentarians create small committees to spread awareness about the issue. It was suggested that village councils must be activated for this purpose as well. Published in Daily Times, October 17th 2018.