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Child Protection Legislation in Pakistan: Bringing International Child Rights Obligations and Local Values Together

Tahira Jabeen

Abstract
Pakistan as party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
is bound to establish a formal child protection system. However, according to
the traditional societal values, child and family matters are considered to be a
private affair allowing least state intervention. Being a federation, child
protection in Pakistan is a provincial subject. The progress in enacting child
protection legislation varies from province to province. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
has promulgated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Act in
2010, and drafted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Rules
2013. Sindh has enacted the Sindh Child Protection Authority Act 2011, and
Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013. The Punjab Destitute and
Neglected Children Act was promulgated in 2004, and revised in 2007. The
Balochistan Child Welfare and Protection Bill has been approved by the
cabinet and approval from the Provincial Assembly is shortly expected. This
paper highlights the salient features of these laws and the in-built struggle to
find a balance between the country‟s international obligations and the local
societal values relating child protection. Three major issues concerning the
current legislation emerge, namely: the challenge of defining the concept of
child protection for practice; the establishment of formal administrative and
institutional structures (including secondary legislation) mandated to
implement the legal provisions; and the need for systematic effort to cope
with the environment of a societal reluctance. Suggestions are offered to
address these issues for the evolving child protection system to head in the
right direction and to be effective and efficient.

Keywords: Child protection, legislative provisions, legal and administrative
implications, societal values, Pakistan