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09 APR 2014

Our Struggle to fight for the rights of children

When a people lack commitment, drive and zeal to better the condition of our fellow human beings, the over riding emotion is that of apathy particularly towards the under privileged. But our ever-enterprising statesmen have found a way: down the line they express “profound grief” and “deep sorrow” alongside heartfelt platitudes for the grieved family.

No matter what the tragedy the attitude is that of indifference; even if the subjects are innocent children. Looking at the statistics, Pakistan has one of the largest populations of the young in the world – with nearly 45 percent of its one hundred and fifty million people being under the age of 15. But it has no policy for children. Hundreds of thousands of infants under four years of age die each year mostly from readily preventative diseases. Amongst the fortunate few who are spared the tragedy, many waste their lives in the throes of extreme poverty. Still worse, an increasing number of children get lost or are abducted; and then there are those whose entire future is blighted because they are imprisoned, or born in jails and mental asylums and have to spend a considerable time of their lives there. Many a times, this is not due to any fault of their own but because their mothers are patients, are serving a sentence or awaiting trial.

Thousands are lost or kidnapped each year, with many finding themselves bought, abused and used in bonded labor camps all over the country. Hundreds are trafficked to foreign destinations for the purposes of drugs smuggling and to be used as camel jockeys. Many more are forced into beggary, trained and used in criminal activities and some are even killed – for their body organs fetch a high price in Pakistan and abroad.

Hundreds of young girls are also abducted, bought and sold all over Pakistan. They are locked away in private prisons, forced into prostitution and trafficked abroad for use in drugs smuggling and for the thriving sex trade (particularly in the Middle East).

The Ansar Burney Trust has been working for the protection of these children for over 25 years under our “Bureau of Missing and Kidnapped Children”. In this time, we have managed to locate and rehabilitate around 100,000 children. These included children who were set free from labor camps, those released from prisons, children who had been lost, child camel jockeys and young girls who had been sold away for prostitution.

We have brought reforms in prisons, prosecuted those who abused children and recently – the Ansar Burney Trust has also successfully been able to convince the governments of the UAE and Qatar to ban the use of children as camel jockeys.

For more information on our work for the protection of children, please choose a link above.

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