Human Rights Commission Of Pakistan (HRCP)

Event:                                                  Participation in Seminar

Date:                                                   20th November, 2018.

Venue:                                                 107, Tipu Block, Garden Town, Lahore.

Topic:                                                 Prevention of Sexual Abuse in Schools

Event:                                                   Universal Children’s Day

Organised By:                                     `

AGHS Team:                                      Hina Shahid, Parvin Ajmal, Kausar Izhar

This seminar involved school teachers (private and governmental), students (victims of sexual abuse), civil society organizations, child protection bureau representatives, AGHS Community Centers Supervisors, Paralegal Coordinator AGHS, and Mr. Iftikhar Mubarak from PLANS International and members from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

This seminar was called to raise awareness on rising sexual abuse incidents in schools and to devise measures to adopt to handle such matters, develop strategies and mechanisms to incorporate it in policies at school administration levels as well as government institutions working primarily for dealing with such matters. The crux of the seminar was to train teachers and government officials in sensitizing about the issues, to create a conducive environment for children to feel safe and to initiate interactive dialogue with parents. This is important to raise awareness on sexual abuse for them to recognize the signs in their children so they can help and guide them. This can be done when schools hold monthly parent-teacher meetings.

Mr.Rizwan from Child Protection Bureau briefed the participants about the number of cases which were registered (which was very low) on the helpline service for victims. He also imparted information regarding awareness campaigns where children are educated about the “Red Zones” and “Green Zones” of their bodies. He informed the audience that they published pamphlets titled “Mehfooz Bachy Mazboot Pakistan” and disseminate it in government schools. Questions were raised regarding follow-up of the readership of these pamphlets since most of the teachers and students do not read them and nor are they guided to understand the basic objective of the whole exercise.

Teachers of private schools related incidents where sexually abused victims and their oppressors were expelled from schools instead of finding out reasons, for fear of ruining the reputation of the school. The students who were sexually abused shared their traumatic experience of child abuse and complained that society and their peers instead of treating them with compassion and love, isolated them and looked down on them. There was a strong demand from civil society organisations to at least add one chapter either in Sociology, Urdu or Islamiat on the subject which should include basic awareness on “Iklaqiat”. Public messages on television and radio should be issued to raise awareness on social issues and guidelines should be given, in local languages, so masses can get help from related institutions, forums and other means. Training of teachers and parents should be organised at school levels and government sector needs to address it seriously and take it along with its one uniform school system program.