PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Commission would set up an institute in the provincial capital soon where children at risk would be provided shelter, counselling and other needed support, said an official.
Mohammad Ijaz Khan, deputy chief child protection and welfare officer, told Dawn that the commission was going to set up a child protection institute in Peshawar by end of November.
“Funds have been allocated for the purpose,” he said. The building of the institute, constructed on Dalazak Road over a 13-kanal piece of land, would have two separate hostels for male and female children. About 70 boys and 30 girls could be accommodated in the hostels, the official said.
“It will be a model child protection institute where children (below the age of 18 years) would be provided shelter and rehabilitation facilities,” said Mr Khan. He said that staff, qualified to deal with children at risk, would be hired for the institute.
The children at risk including beggars, orphans and those who are trapped by criminal gangs as well as the children referred by court will be provided shelter at the institute.
“If in the long run they need permanent shelter, these children will be referred to the orphanages run by the social welfare department,” the official said.
He said that the commission, set up under Child Protection and Welfare Act 2010, became functional in May 2011 and received more than 4,000 cases of children at risk.
The data was complied with the help of eight child protection units working in Peshawar, Mardan, Swabi, Kohat, Charsadda, Abbottabad, Buner and Swat districts.
Mr Khan said that most of the problems were related to out-dated customs and violence resulting in violation of child rights. Forced child marriage of girls was also a serious issue, he said, adding that cases of corporal punishments were also reported.
“Anybody from community or a child at risk can inform these units at the helpline 1121 and the unit’s team can come and collect the child caught in some problem,” the official said.
He said that most of the children, who were at risk or faced some problem, would be protected and provided counselling at the institute.
“We feel that best place for a child is his home and his family so we would focus on their rehabilitation and reunion with their families,” Mr Khan said.
He said that the institute would be a bit different from other institutions run by the social welfare department for children as it would be a model institute.
The official said that the commission came to know that many institutes run by the government and non-governmental organisations had no standing operating procedures. Every institute like orphanages, beggar welfare homes and shelter homes had its own procedure, he added.
“We are devising a uniform standing operating procedure for all the government and private institutions dealing with issues of children,” he said. The official added that the commission was actively monitoring policies affecting children and it was also its task to make efforts to implement laws related to basic rights of children.
Mr Khan said that the commission was going to bring uniformity and accountability by making registration mandatory for all such government and private institutes. The commission would issue them No Objection Certificate, necessary for them to operate, he added. The commission would ensure that all the institutions dealing with children had uniform rules and standards, said Mr Khan.