Given the growing concerns around child exploitation in Pakistan and increasing number of child abuse cases coming to the light SDGs Secretariat arranged a consultation meeting with Parliamentarians on ‘Online Child Safety’ in collaboration with the visiting Facebook Asia-Pacific HQ team on March 03, 2020 at SDGs Secretariat. The meeting was chaired by Hon. Mr. Riaz Fatyana MNA & convener of Parliamentary Task Force on SDGs. The other participants of the meeting included MNA Ms. Mehnaz Akber Aziz who is also convener of SDGs Sub-Committee on Child Rights, MNA Ms. Ghazala Saifi, MNA Ms. Zahra Wadood Fatemi , MNA Nafeesa Inayatullah Khattak, MNA Ms. Syma Nadeem, MNA Ms. Zill-e-Huma and MNA Dr. Rubina Fareed while from the Facebook side present were Ms. Amber Hawkes, Mr. Michael Yoon, Mr. Sarim Aziz and Ms. Sehar Tariq.
After formal introductions the work being done by the SDGs Secretariat in promoting child rights and the Parliamentary Role in assisting the SDGs was shared with the participants. The Parliamentarians stated that initiatives with various stakeholders are welcome and that the Parliament looks forward to further collaboration with the Facebook team.
The current work being done on the consolidation of laws targeting child rights was discussed. It was emphasized that Pakistan is still undergoing various issues concerning child abuse, child rape and child pornography. It was highlighted that the Zainab Alert Bill was an achievement of the Government of Pakistan.
It was also highlighted that protecting children is everyone’s responsibility. The discussion revolved around child protection and safety, an overview of the things being done in Pakistan was given. There are several issues regarding child sexual exploitation and child safety online. The Facebook team highlighted that they use a global set of policies when it comes to blocking content, however a vast amount of content is geo blocked specifically for Pakistan. The content blocking requests are extremely high in number. However not a single request that was received was regarding child pornography.
The Facebook team stated that they have a different set of policies for minors (Ages 13-18), which are developed specially for children. They further stated that Facebook safeguards child rights by protection, privacy and online participation.
The Facebook team shared that that they are also working on introducing an “Amber Alert” equivalent as “Zainab Alert” in Pakistan which is to work with the local police and law enforcement agencies to help and assist in finding missing children in Pakistan.
The meeting concluded with a vote of thanks.