Woman at a radio station (Photo by Jeroen van Loon)

International Day of the Girl Child: As Pakistan toasts Malala’s win, activists plead for introspection

LAHORE / QUETTA / ISLAMABAD / PESHAWAR: Fourteen-year-old Zeba wakes early in the morning with her younger siblings Saira and Hina. The girls get dressed, comb their hair and leave their home at 7.30 am; they are not headed to their school, but to help their mother who works as a maid at several houses in the capital. (..) “In a conservative society like Pakistan a girl usually has to face discrimination right from the moment her family learns that a mother-to-be is pregnant with a baby girl,” said Country Representative Rutgers Qadeer Baig as Pakistan marks the International Day of the Girl Child, commemorated annually by the United Nations on October 11.

The theme for 2014 focuses on empowering adolescent girls in order to end the gender-based violence.

“Violence against children remains culturally entrenched as children in Pakistan undergo physical violence, sexual abuse, trafficking and acid attacks,” reported Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) in 2013. “Girls in Pakistan aged 14 to 25 years are the most likely target of acid attacks and in 2013 a total of 150 acid attacks against women were reported around the country.” The report adds that there were 3,861 cases of child sexual abuse reported from different parts of the country in 2012.

Malala (Pakistan Express Tribune)

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