Monday, July 23, 2012
Pakistani Child Advocate: ‘Girls with Deformity or Disability are Among the Most marginalized Group of Children’
By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- In a horrifying case, which has recently been displayed widely in national and international newspapers and TV channels, a newborn baby girl was buried alive by her father in the city of Khanewal in Punjab, Pakistan.
“The local police have arrested the father accused of burying his daughter. It was informed that due to the physical deformity of the newborn, the father had decided to abuse the most fundamental right of every child; the right to life,” said Khalid Shahzad, Director of the Dorothea Center for Special Children in Lahore, Pakistan, in an e-mail to ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net ).
“Men not only decide about their life but also their death. Ill treatment of girls and women is a common trait of our society besides corruption and hypocrisy,” he said.
Shahzad states the SRDO President commented that; “I also come from a rural area of the country and am quite aware of the fact that any deformity or abnormality of the child brings out very strange reaction in rural areas.”
“He added that due to lack of education and awareness, people see disabled children as a curse and therefore such an attitude has made disabled children completely unacceptable for the society,” Shahzad said.
“The situation worsened when a girl is either born or develops some kind of disability, which virtually heralds an end to her life. Barring a few lucky ones, our society in general has an indifferent and heartless attitude towards people with disabilities, specifically a girl. They are declined the basic rights of being a human, and shunned behind the closed doors,” Shahzad said.
“But, he added, last week the news about a newborn girl with physical disabilities, buried alive by her own father in Punjab, must have jolted the hearts and minds of many if not all,” Shazad said, adding: “This barbaric act is a reminder of practices prevalent in older times and a reflection of the crumbled state of affairs we are at. Additionally, the case has clearly shown the disrespect of child rights, in rural areas of the country.”
He goes on to say the exact data about disability is not available in most countries of the world.
“It is estimated that overall disability prevalence is around 10 percent of global population. And these people are usually deprived of all right to live a dignified life,” he said.
“There are eight guiding principles that underlie the Convention and each one of its specific articles: Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one's own choices, and independence of persons; Non-discrimination; Full and effective participation and inclusion in society; Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity; Equality of opportunity; Accessibility; Equality between men and women; Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.”
Shahzad stated: “It is a fact, and the recent case has substantiated the assertion, that children, especially girls, who live with any deformity or disability are among the most marginalized group of children. Due to their marginalized status, these children are vulnerable to physical violence, neglect and discrimination. Additionally, the stigma associated with them, especially in rural social settings of developing and poor countries, has further increased the violation of their basic rights. Lack of acknowledgement of the issue of children with disabilities and support mechanism by the government, society, community and even in homes have made their life miserable.”
“It is, therefore, expected that the federal and provincial governments should take tangible measures to safeguard the fundamental rights of disabled children. Furthermore, NGOs and CBOs with the help of media should organize awareness raising campaigns, especially in rural areas of the country, about the importance and respect of the fundamental rights of children, both boys and girls.”
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