While child abuse & neglect has been highlighted in the recent years, there are some organizations that have been actively working on this cause for more than a decade and given us a better understanding oof child abuse & neglect from a scientific lens. These NGOs and organizations have been breaking taboos related to child abuse especially sexual abuse through research, capacity building and services for survivors and their families.
Child protection has been a program area of various organizations across Pakistan. And although there are several organization working towards eliminating child abuse & neglect, we wanted to highlight the top organizations that given us proven results for child protection and how you can seek help from them in cases of child abuse and neglect.
PAHCHAAN (Protection and Help of Children Against Abuse and Neglect) is a Lahore based non-profit organization founded in 2005.Most of its work revolves around research, capacity building of professionals, service delivery projects for children from difficult circumstances. Currently it is also providing psycho-social support to COVID affected families in 5 high burden districts of Punjab. PAHCHAAN has established the first hospital based child protection unit (CPU) of South Asiaat Children Hospital Lahore which provides medical, psychological, social and legal support to cases of child abuse and neglect. Over the past 12 years, this CPU has managed more than 1600 cases of child abuse and neglect, about 100-150 cases every year. It also receives cases from other government and private hospitals of Lahore and surrounding districts. If you are in Lahore and want to seek medical attention for a case of abuse,Child Protection Unit is the go-to place. Its office is in room 316 OPD, Children Hospital Lahore.
Child Protection and Welfare Bureau was established by the government of Punjab in 2004 to provide care, rehabilitation and training to destitute and neglected children. Its offices are present in all 8 divisional headquarters of Punjab. If you want prompt assistance and support to be provided to children subjected to abuse, neglect and exploitation you can contact on their Child Helpline on 1121. This helpline is especially useful if a child needs to be rescued from a harmful environment.
Rozan is an Islamabad based non government organization registered in 1998. Most of its work revolves around awareness raising, psychological support and referrals, training, capacity building and research. Rozan Counselling Helpline is a free of cost telephonic service for individuals of every age, gender or ethnicity facing complications in their life.While most of the calls they receive are related to bullying, peer pressure, anxiety, low self esteem, they provide support to those who have faced sexual violence. You can call their helpline 0304-111-1741 for further assistance. They provide email and in person counseling as well.
Sahil is an Islamabad based organization working on child protection especially child sexual abuse since 1996 with its interventions spread through the provincial districts. Sahil’s cruel number report is a yearly publication which gives statistics about the number of reported child abuse cases in Pakistan. Sahil provides free counselling through their Jeet Healing Center (JHC) via in-person counseling, telephonic, email counseling and outreach. Sahil regional offices provide legal aid for victims of child sexual abuse and they have a referral system of lawyers who can help via outreach services.
Group Development Pakistan is a civil society organization based in Islamabad to protect children from all forms of violence and discrimination. Most of their work focuses on child protection, justice with children and child participation. Group Development Pakistan has recently launched it Digital Victim Support Services Directory which provides an easy access to information about services including shelter, referrals, counseling, reporting missing children, reporting online abuse etc related to violence against children. This directory, available on their website will guide you about local organizations working in your area, their contact numbers and the services they provide.
These are only some of the organizations which are focused on protecting children against abuse and neglect by providing services to children and their families. While other organizations, networks and professional bodies such as Child Rights Network, National Action Coordination Group and Pakistan Pediatric Association have been spreading awareness and advocating for better laws and legislation in Pakistan, we have a long way to go before we feel comfortable talking about abuse and seeking help.
Mehek Naeem is the Director Programmes Office of PAHCHAAN (Protection and Help of Children Against Abuse and Neglect). As a child rights activist and consultant, she has been involved in various projects revolving around life skill based education, disability, care and protection with various institutes and organizations. She has a background in Psychology (Goldsmiths, University of London) and in Special Needs Education (University of Oslo). She is currently a PhD scholar of Special Education and she uses her knowledge and ideas to improve, design and implement interventions for children.She is also involved in program development, research, advocacy, capacity building and awareness raising and has many publications related to rights of children.