The CRM Monthly General Body Meeting was conducted on 31st, January, 2018. The meeting was coordinated by Acting CRM Coordinator Farshad Iqbal. The meeting began with a round of introduction of participants, followed by discussion on three major agenda points.
Agenda Point 1: Update on SOPs for Cases Related to Child Sexual Abuse.
As per decision in the CRM Emergency General Body Meeting on January, 17th, 2018, a working group was setup to devise SOPs on CRM’s role in addressing child sexual abuse. The working group consisted of Mamtaz Gohar (Sahil), MS. Saiqa (Rozan), Ishtiaq Gillani (UGOOD), Syed Kausar Abbas (SSDO), Ms Mishal (IPAD), and Arshed Mahmood (IDRAK).
Mr Arshed Mehmood (IDRAK) discussed the scope for the SOPs and pointed towards the broad scope of affairs that were before the working group. He asked for clarity regarding realistic goals that CRM can achieve.
Farshad Iqbal (Acting CRM Coordinator) clarified that while CRM is an advocacy based network, there are certain other domains that it works on such as via fact finding reports, advising government bodies, and taking up cases. He pointed out towards the recent incident where SPARC with the help of Islamabad Police followed up on a case which resulted in the recovery of an 11 year old girl from Faisalabad, who was trafficked from Sector G-11. He explained that SPARC was tipped by Ms Valerie Khan, after which Sabeen Almas from SPARC contacted the ICT Police and followed up on the case.
Mr Arshed Mehmood further added that the current scope was too vast to be covered and that CRM should opt for a consolidate plan.
Afreen Athar (Rozan) mentioned that Rozan’s medico-legal support documentation can be included in the SOPs. Mr Gillani acknowledged that those are under review.
Sabeen Almas explained that individual cases like the recent Hadia case are often limited to individuals using personal linkages with police officials and government authorities and other organizations usually do not facilitate, expect for project related interventions. She said that there should be an official mechanism for CRM for referring cases. She also expressed her desire for CRM to go beyond advocacy, as child rights cases cannot be ignored.
After much deliberation it was decided that an advocacy strategy shall be finalized in the coming weeks to further refine the mandate of CRM. This is because while CRM is mainly an advocacy based network, there was a desire among certain members to go beyond advocacy. Farshad Iqbal pointed towards the referral mechanism he had proposed earlier and requested all member organizations to send their updated organizational information (as requested in a prior email), in order to identify NGOs engaged in service delivery. He further explained that the available information will not only be used for updating CRM members’ information but also to identify NGOs for the referral list based on thematic areas (e.g. street children, education, free legal aid on child sexual abuse, etc).
He also explained that the referral list will contain contact information for governmental organizations engaged in child protection, such as child protection units, universal child protection numbers like 1211 (used in Pakistan), and the like.
Aliya Syed (CDO) suggested that organizations should be divided according to capability and phases, where some can work in the early phase and some in the long-run.
Habiba Salman (Rutgers) suggested ensuring that the provincial chapters are taken onboard and NGOs working in provinces are also included in the list, as most child protection issues are dealt outside ICT.
She also suggested that the working group should keep the SOPs limited to a single page. She suggested that Rutgers can host a meeting to facilitate the advocacy strategy next month for finalizing an advocacy strategy, based on the existing 5-year strategic document.
Mr Ishtiaq Gillani (UGOOD) suggested to divide the SOPs by thematic area according to short and long term support.
Fazila Sherdil (Shirakat) called for discussed and feedback from all individuals for forming a draft strategy in the next meeting.
Sajjad Cheema (Save the Children) mentioned that a strategy till year 2019 is already available, however, it can be further refined. Narrowing down the focus.
Dividing also advised to divide monthly meetings into two halves, i.e. one half for administrative tasks and the other for focusing on the cause. To also ensure that advocacy is not left out in the middle. He also called for making use of the document with a top priority and expressed dissatisfaction on the existing laws and child protection mechanisms in the country.
There was also discussion on whether CRM should form its own curriculum on child sexual abuse to provide to the government. Mr Cheema suggested that it is the responsibility of the government to create a curriculum and we should monitor and help in improving it.
Farshad Iqbal updated CRM Members on his recommendations given to NCCWD to curb child sexual abuse. A brief overview of the recommendations are as follows:
- Improving the Forensic Investigation Processes
Improvement in the forensic investigation process, including emphasis on properly securing the crime scene and collecting DNA evidence.
- Addressing Child Trafficking
Enactment of the Trafficking in Persons Bill’ that was moved by Mr Mushahid Hussain Syed that can be pushed for enactment. The mandate of the bill is ‘to prevent and Combat Trafficking in persons, especially Women and Children. The bill can also help in addressing cases of trafficking, linked with child sexual abuse.
Copy of Trafficking in Person’s Bill:http://www.senate.gov.pk/uploads/documents/1474988404_181.pdf
- Harmonization of Child Protection Mechanisms
The child protection infrastructure in the country lacks coordination and harmonization. All provinces and the federal area should have a similar structure to ensure that there is better coordination.
- Sustainable CSA Database
A mechanism can be established to instantly register a case of child sexual abuse at hospitals and generate a digital record for it at a central portal. This portal can be centralized for database management purposes across the country, with one primary domain for ICT, and sub-domains allocated to provinces. Such a database can be cost-effective, and can have a mechanism that can be used even by novice end users.
This will also help circumvent the red tape of going through the cumbersome procedure of filing an FIR with the police.
- Using Civil Society Networks for Advocacy
Networks like CRM (Child Rights Movement) have a national outreach and can help in awareness raising on CSA by working with the government.
Agenda Point 2: Suggestions on CRM Advocacy Initiatives for the Year Ahead.
Mamtaz Gohar suggested increased media presence, and called for issuing a press release in Urdu and English after every CRM meeting.
Nazia Raja (Aizan Foundation) expressed concern on lack of follow up on political party manifestos, which was a part of last year’s action points.
Mr. Ishtiaq Gillani clarified that CRM had a few meetings and reached out to PPP, PTI and PML-N officials, however, only PPP gave encouraging response on CRM’s recommendations.
Aliya Syed called for digging up last year’s action points and working on the pending tasks.
MS Mishal suggested making a planner for the year ahead to follow up on tasks. Mr Sajjad Cheema called for adding a tracker to the planner.
Qudsia Mehmood called for focusing on 3 Major aspects, i.e. child abuse, curriculum, and lack of child rights related clauses in political party manifestos need to be addressed.
- A referral list will be created and shared by Farshad Iqbal before the next Monthly General Body Meeting in February.
- The draft for CRM SOPs on handling cases of Child Sexual Abuse will be shared by the working group by 10th Feb, 2018.
- The next general Body Meeting will be facilitated by Rutgers to refine CRM’s advocacy strategy.
- Last elections TORs will be used in future, as agreed by General Body Members in the meeting on 31st, January, 2018.
- Farshad Iqbal will share details regarding last year’s action points and the ongoing/pending tasks after consultation with Mr Ishtiaq Gillani
- Mr Ishtiaq Gillani will take the lead on following up on existing child rights bills to help CRM members identify the need for pushing them forward.