Monday, March 12, 2012
It is not too difficult for me to look back and recall life without mobile and Internet, but now…it’s a whole different world, called the virtual world. It is fact that the Internet obviously has provided a space where one can express herself/himself, get heard and supported; thus, it does provide a space/platform and freedom from where we can and have been initiating movements/causes.
It has been a while since I have started reading articles where people have started articulating the experiences and incidents of child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation. which is a good thing-a positive sign towards resolution of some problems (of course we can understand them only if we are willing to talk about it, discuss it).
Recently I happen to read an article by Ameena Tariq, posted on Express Tribune Blog, dated March 10, 2012. In her article, she is saying so much about the bitter realities of how safe or unsafe children in our society are. The article of course, sheds light on, how an adult (in most of the reported situations) takes advantage of his/her status within the family (in particular) and society (in general). Which is actually reinforcing the fact that children in a “secure environment” of home are not “so secure”, rather are like sitting ducks; If a potential abuser is somehow related to the child or has trust of child’s parents or of the child her/himself then obviously in situation like these the child is extremely vulnerable.
” There are various social and cultural norms prevalent in the Pakistani society that lead to these incidents and ensure that children do not readily report any incidents that may have occurred”
Quoting one paragraph from Ameena Tariq’s blog, I have underlined some of the words where I differ with what she is saying, without being disagreeing with her in principle.
It is very difficult for children to explicitly speak of what they might have been going through (agree), but they do have their own ways through which they do give out implicit signals with a hope that their parents/guardian will understand. The time when a child expresses her/himself is the time when she/he runs out of her/his endurance and patience. However, by that time most of the damage is already done. The final hope in that case is the person who the child has trusted and shared her/his story with.
Unfortunately, not all of us are equipped to understand those implicit signs and silent whispers.
There are lots of fears that a child, suffering in hands of an abuser, has to conquer in order to express her/himself. Those who have survived similar abuse would know precisely that it takes a lot of courage for a child to overcome the element of guilt and fear of being judged. In situations of incest, relationships in the family has its own mechanics and complications so normally even if the story somehow gets surfaced, it is covered with another story or swept under the carpet. This clearly, for one reason or another, shows lack of willingness on parent’s part to stand up for the child. Rest assure that abusers are quite aware of the psychological fears, barriers and bollards of children and their parents and they very neatly manipulate these weaknesses and vulnerabilities of child, her/his parents or guardian and society in their favor. Which implies that they (abusers) are better equipped in doing what they do.
The current situation is getting more and more alarming; Abduction, abuse and killing of children (both male and female), of as little age as 4 years, is becoming more recurrent.
It is very important for all the stakeholders including government, social sector, media, educational institutes and society leaders etc to join hands and work together towards the common cause of preventing children from being abused and exploited. In order to develop a better understanding, more and more researches are required. Parents in particular and society in general need to be equipped with information and knowledge so that they can effectively play their role in providing protection to children that they truly deserve.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
2:54 PM 2 comments
As much as the concern of Dengue is getting more alarming day in and out, the very struggle to somehow find the cure to it and also creating awareness in masses is also a challenge. Some of the experts rightfully believe that probably in the upcoming winter when mosquitoes will naturally disappear may reduce the casualties of dengue but there are still strong possibilities of its (dengue’s) outbreak in next summer. Being optymistic, at least this 3-4 months period of winter is a blessing in disguise, buying us enough time to properly investigate into this problem and take more effective measures to ensure it does not reappear.
Many species in nature are disappearing, termed by many scientists as “natural biological process” which is affecting the balance of our ecosystem. The disturbance in the balance of ecosystem bears its own consequences; is this consequence of imbalance in our immediate ecosystem?
Frogs are very important to the ecosystems in which they live. They control bugs and help keep the ecosystem in balance. Frog’s unique physiology and their ties to both the water and the land can tell us a lot about what’s going on in our entire ecosystem. Thus, frogs are ideal indicators of the environmental health and therefore our first warning is the frog population.
Now is there a connection between frogs and mosquitoes?
Frogs are natural insect eaters and tadpoles in particular feed on mosquito eggs and larvae like mosquito eater fish (Gambusia), birds, bats, the red eared slider turtle and dragonfly. Frogs normally lay their eggs in fresh water just like Dengue mosquito does. Frogs are now unfortunately indigenous specie and are disappearing leaving a vacuum probably leading to relative abundance and specie composition of mosquito populations. If the above mentioned species has its role in controlling the population of mosquitoes then in current situation, a very basic and important question needs to be answered i.e. why is dengue striking more in urban areas compared to rural areas? Without making an intensive investigation to answer this question, one answer can be is that probably it’s because in rural areas still one can see some number of birds, bats, dragon flies, turtles, fish and most importantly frogs which is not the case with urban areas.
Sadly, the said species (frogs in particular) are being hit from all sides and there are multiple factors which might be contributing to this die off i.e. pollution (water pollution in particular especially because of the use of pesticide), diseases, habitat loss, climate change, competition and even the Ultraviolet radiations finding its way out of the already belated Ozone layer.
Immediate actions are inevitable in this alarming situation but a more holistic approach is also very much important and cannot absolutely be avoided.
Monday, August 15, 2011
2:19 PM No comments
The issues of child labor and trafficking are complex and tied together. These issues cannot be effectively dealt if they are considered as two separate issues. Normally the economically weak or people on/under the poverty line with hopes of better life in society falls easy victims to abuse and exploitation in labor as well as trafficking. In such cases women and children are more vulnerable, but that does not mean that adults (men) are not trafficked or exploited.
A child forced to earn for the family is the main or may be the only source of the family income. This fact puts a substantial responsibility on his/her young and weak shoulders. In process of disposing off his/her responsibility of earning for the family, this child sacrifices her/his childhood and gets exposed to all the challenges for which she/he might not be mentally and physically ready. Thus, a child may it be a male or female is exposed to all sorts of abuse.
The federal bureau statistics (1996) found 3.3 million children out of 40 million (in the age of 5-14 years) to be economically active. Based on a literature survey conducted by VISION, it was noted that current laws (International, national and provincial) are contradictory to each other on the issue of child labor starting from the very definition of it i.e. convention of the rights of child (minimum age 18 years); in contrast, Article11 of the constitution of Pakistan defines the minimum age as 15 years.
In order to regulate child labor by defining the age of a child is in itself a major challenge. The only few documents that can verify a child’s age is a birth certificate, but if one does not have this document then National Identity Card (NIC) is the only legal document that can verify a child’s age. Even in 2011 not every mother is fortunate enough to be taken to hospital for delivery and still in many situations the traditional methods are preferred. Why? It has its own complications and needs a proper investigation but at least it rule out the possibility that not every or even most of the children can have birth certificate. Similarly, if the minimum age of a child is 15 years (CRC, The Factories Act 1934, The Compulsory Education Act 1994) and he/she can earn for her/himself or family after attaining the age of 15 then the only question that comes to mind “How and what determines the age of a child to see if the child is 15 years old or not?” An individual gets entitled for NIC at the age of 18 only.
Apparently, former legislations are more aimed at regulating the issue of child labor instead of obstructing and declaring it illegal. If the intent of these legislations was to regulate child labor then there should have been proper arrangements and mechanism well I place to ensure the implementation of the said laws. Moreover, realistically a child is not employed with any other intent but cost effectiveness and obedience/compliance. Therefore, regulating child labor with such high expectations without proper mechanism/system to ensure the implementation of laws is nothing but living in fool’s paradise.
There is scarcity and need of new legislations regarding both child labor and trafficking; especially in current political scenario where people are not only trafficked or forced into labor of all kinds but also are used in terrorism. With society becoming more accepting of child working and “earning for the family” it becomes much more alarming than ever.