Karachi, 22 August 2023: The Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO) held a press conference at Karachi to raise demand to authorities and judiciary to have speedy, transparent, and exemplary prosecution of accused allegedly involved in rape and murder of child domestic labor Fatima in Ranipur and torture and attempted murder of child domestic labour Rizwana in Islamabad. Chairperson Punjab Child Protection Bureau Sarah Ahmed, renowned actress and child rights activist, Nadia Jameel, child protection ambassadors and renowned Pakistani celebrities, Mahira Khan, Ahsan Khan and Frieha Altaf Also participated the press conference.
“Cases of Fatima and Rizwana stand as a harrowing example of the consequences of child labour and slavery, should be made a test case to serve as a deterrent”
-Sarah Ahmed Chairperson Punjab Child Protection Bureau
“Child domestic labour should be taken as a serious crime against state, a cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable offence”
Syed Kausar Abbas, Executive Director SSDO
“We need stronger crackdowns on sexual predators and ensure they get punished due to the full extent of the law”
Sarah Ahmed, Chairperson Punjab Child Protection Bureau said that the cases of Fatima and Rizwana stands as a harrowing example of the consequences of child labour and slavery and such cases should be made a test case to serve as a deterrent, sending a clear message that these heinous acts will not be tolerated. She was of the view addressing child labour and slavery requires a collaborative effort involving government agencies, law enforcement, civil society, and the media. She also said that it is also imperative that survivors of child trafficking and slavery receive comprehensive support, including physical, psychological, and social rehabilitation.
She also stated,
“A nation that can’t protect its children, cannot progress”
She said that child protection bureaus and authorities are doing its efforts to provide protection to children working in hazardous environments and those who are victims of domestic violence, but we need support from all the relevant stakeholders to prevent these issues.
Syed Kausar Abbas, Executive Director SSDO, while highlighting the grave concern on the rising cases of child trafficking and modern slavery said that the rising cases of child slavery and child trafficking demands our collective attention and action to ban child labour and combat child trafficking and slavery in Pakistan. He emphasized the need of building harmony among diversified legal framework catering the specific child rights violations including early child marriages, child labor, domestic labor, child trafficking, violence against children and bonded labor traditions in Pakistan. The child domestic labour should be taken as a serious crime against state, a cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable offence and penalized through rigorous punishments. He added that section 3 and 4 of the TIP Act provide for police to register such cases to ensure maximum penalization, however it is strange that such cases of compelled child labour are not registered under TIP act.
Kausar Abbas stressed on the need of provincial government to seriously look upon the rising cases of violence against children through establishing dedicated operational and investigation units and providing adequate resources for the capacity enhancement of officers, investigation, and prosecution of offenders. He also said that there is lack of awareness among common citizens about the prevalence of crime, the signs, and reporting mechanism to report these issues. In the rural areas, the victim families usually are very poor and they themselves are not aware of the fact that they are victims of TIP, bonded labor, and abuse, making it incredibly challenging to identify and rehabilitate victims.
“Giving them the awareness that they are victims, is their first right.”
Nadia Jameel said in press conference that those perpetrating these heinous crimes are the often the ones that hold great influence, power, and even political backing. As such, it becomes incredibly easy for them to avoid any sort of punishment, easily getting away with their crimes. She stressed that we need stronger crackdowns on sexual predators and ensure they get punished due to the full extent of the law. We need to make sure that we will not rest until the perpetrator is punished. We will not stop raising our voices till then.
An emotional Nadia Jameel said Pakistan is facing a crisis – our attitude towards our children. Crimes against children have always been there but now these issues have been highlighted because of the media. This is a positive step. She added that I am afraid of the silence that falls after the hashtags and trends end, that is the problem what happens then.
Popular actress Mahira Khan said that there were many young girls that have undergone these heinous treatments and it is plainly obvious that if we do not take a stand today, if we do not harshly punish these offenders today, then countless other young girls will suffer the same fate in the future.
Ahsan Khan said that despite any hue and cry against it, this practice still endures. Worst of all, we can see from Rizwana’s case that even among those we perceive to be well-educated, they are observed to be the very worst offenders.
Frieha Altaf insisted that the story of these young girls is testament to the urgency of addressing this issue and seeking justice for those who have suffered. We demand a thorough and impartial investigation into the Rizwana and Fatima case and Justice must be swift, ensuring that those responsible for their suffering are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
All Public Press Relations for the SSDO #JusticeForFatima #JusticeForRizwana End Child Trafficking & Child Labour Conference 2023 that took place on August 22, 2023 was organised and managed by Catwalk PR, Event Management & Productions.