The session was presided over by Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan presented the resolution in the parliament, which was passed by all lawmakers, apart from PPP’s. Raja Pervez Ashraf, PPP leader and former prime minister, said: “Ramping up the severity of punishments does not result in a reduction in crime.”
He was not the only one to raise his voice against the passing of the resolution. Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry “strongly condemned” it.
Presently, multiple laws are available in the country for dealing with child-related offences.
Punjab was the first province where a law on child protection was enacted in 2004. Under this law, a child protection and welfare bureau has to be set up with wide-ranging functions. The bureau has also to set up child protection institutions in different areas. The KP CPWA was enacted in 2010. This law is more comprehensive than that of Punjab. The KP law included several offences against children with prescribed punishments. The offences incorporated in the Act include: child pornography, sexual abuse, sale in child organs, corporal punishment and child begging and trafficking.
The KP Act provides for setting up of child protection bodies, including child protection courts, the Child Protection and Welfare Commission, child protection units on district level, child protection institute, etc. The Sindh Child Protection Authority Act, 2011, was enacted in June 2011. This law makes it binding on the provincial government to establish Sindh Child Protection Authority, which is chaired by minister for social welfare. The authority has to set up child protection units and also appoint child protection officers. However, this law is not as comprehensive as that of KP and Punjab.
Balochistan Child Protection Act, 2016, was enacted in Nov 2016. This law includes definitions of different categories of violence against children, including mental violence, physical violence, sexual abuse and exploitation, etc. It provides for setting up of a child protection commission on provincial level and child protection units on district level.
Several important amendments were made in Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) through the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 2016, which was enacted in March 2016. Some of the provisions included in PPC are similar to the one available in KPCPWA, including offences related to exposure to seduction, child pornography, sexual abuse, etc. Similarly, new section 377A and 377B were incorporated in PPC in which a detailed definition of sexual abuse and punishment for that are given, respectively. In 2018, an amendment was made in section 377B of the PPC to make the punishment for sexual abuse more stringent. It now provides imprisonment which shall not be less than 14 years and may extend to 20 years with minimum fine of Rs1 million.
Similarly, in the 2016 amendments the offence of child pornography was made punishable to minimum two years imprisonment and maximum seven years besides fine.