Seal the Cycle
By: Malaha Shahab - Intern SSDO
To those accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression! Today standing in the 21st century Pakistan being the third world underdevelopment country may have laws registered for the protection of children but has been exploiting them through class systems, corruption, and capitalism. Children being the future of Pakistan are yet classified into designated jobs and institutions inspired by forefathers and family traditions.
The rapid population growth is driving the country more towards suppression as the middle and lower class faces a lack of awareness and resources. For starters education in Pakistan is the most essential step that needs justice. At this point, Pakistan is at the second-highest number for out-of-school children in the world. Gender wise boys outnumber girls at every stage of education. The constitution obligates according to Article-25 A that,
“The state shall provide free and compulsory education to the age group of 5-16 years”.
The situation of education provision in Pakistan is yet facing downfall due to gaps in service which is highlighted constraint in access. Access and retention of some underprivileged populations, particularly teenage females, is hampered by socio-cultural demand-side restrictions mixed with economic considerations and supply-related difficulties (such as school facility availability). Putting in place a reliable data system and monitoring methods to track out-of-school children's retention and avoid dropout remains a struggle. Inadequate funding, insufficient enforcement of policy promises, and difficulties in fair implementation obstruct reaching the most disadvantaged at the system level. Although there has been a promising improvement in education expenditures, they still fall short of the 4 percent objective at 2.8 percent of total GDP. Case studies show that in 2004 only 40% of Pakistani children were enrolled in primary schools which are mostly the ones who belong to the middle and upper class. A big chunk of the lower community deliberately chose madrassas over schools, where the curriculum is almost contrary and promotes Islamic education. Secondary and higher-level education as graduation degrees is cuffed by corrupt systems. Admissions through sources and grades being sold are the new smart amongst teens.
Distribution of seats for medical is the major hurdle to surpass for students while they are being sold more often. Board systems rule over the judgment of capability in students when it’s been made all about the financial condition of every individual. Papers are leaked easily and the curriculum is the same for many years. Lack of awareness and illiteracy of parents adds up to the increasing child education issues in Pakistan. UNICEF supports the Government of Pakistan's efforts to minimize the number of OOSC at the pre-primary, primary, and lower secondary levels to expedite the development and guarantee the equitable extension of quality education.
Government should focus on Early Childhood Education (ECE) to improve school readiness; expand equitable and high-quality alternative learning pathways (ALP) at the elementary and secondary levels; and nurturing school-community partnerships to increase on-time enrolment, reduce dropouts, and ensure that all students complete and transition successfully. Contribute to more equitable provincial sector planning and budgeting, data and assessment system enhancement, and evidence-based policy advocacy at the system level. Culture over-power the cause of education provision makes parents force their children to withdraw education and get married or run a family business. Females are at a large number objected towards early marriages due to bad financial state of family or tradition. In Pakistan, child marriage is still a common occurrence. It is a grave infringement of the human rights of young women. One in every three Pakistani females marries before they reach the age of 18. (Demographic and Health Survey 2012-13). Child marriages single-handedly hold most disturbances in Pakistan. It robs away a child’s childhood and prospects. Early marriages shall increase the chance of domestic violence and child abuse. Young aged 15-19 shows the highest reported cases at 24.3%. it may also subject females to at-risk pregnancy fistula and sexually transmitted diseases or even death. Teen girls being forced by society to bear children at the age of 20s may misbalance their health, country’s population rate and even take away girl’s autonomy.
On social media, word spread that a 64-year-old MNA was marrying a 14-year-old girl recently. There was no action taken against him, despite a few objections from child rights groups and a few lawmakers. It is not uncommon in Pakistan for teenagers to marry someone three times their age. This is a type of sexual abuse faced by a shocking number of young girls who are abducted, forcibly converted, and married to older men in the name of Islam, which, in reality, bans forced conversions. Pakistan’s child marriage restraint Act 1929 conveys the legal age of marriages for boys to 18 whereas 16 for girls. Sindh assembly adopted this act in April 2014, which changed the minimum age to 18 for both genders punishable by law. The government of Pakistan in an agenda to target child marriage issues amended the penal code in February 2017 toughening penalties for those found guilty of the crime. Through a consultation process that included youth, legislators, and civil society groups, UNFPA assisted the Government of Punjab in drafting a comprehensive Punjab Child Marriage Restraint Act. The penalty for perpetrators has been raised as a result of the Draft Bill. However, legislation to raise the marriage age from 16 to 18 years old is still pending at the provincial and national levels.
Children deemed an adult by society at a young age being oppressed in the name of culture and traditions has been the case in Pakistan since its birth. The Pakistani government attempted to put the requirements into effect, taking several administrative, judicial, and legislative steps to highlight sensitive areas of concern that impede children's development. Pakistan's government developed a National Plan of Action (NPA) for Child Protection to satisfy the country's obligations on several concerns. It’s about time we break this wheel of illiteracy and forceful marriages and start promoting the right to a life free of violence, including corporal and physical punishment, as well as humiliating and degrading punishment. Understanding, accepting, and implementing child rights can help to remove all types of violence against children from all institutions.