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The Express Tribune Editorial 27 July 2020

Child protection


It is encouraging to know that the K-P government is working to revive child protection units in view of the rise in such cases. The provincial assembly was informed recently that the social welfare department registered 303 cases in the past five years. The district-wise break-up is: 49 cases of child sexual abuse in Abbottabad; Mardan 48 cases; Charsadda 46 cases; Swabi 43 cases; Bannu 27 cases; Swat 23; Lower Dir 14; Buner 12; Chitral 11 cases; Kohat and Battagram nine cases each; and the provincial capital of Peshawar 12 cases. Of the 303 cases uncovered or registered by the social welfare department, 296 cases involved boys and 97 girls. Not a single case of abuse was registered against the transgender people. The detection of cases shows an increasing number of victims are breaking their silence and naming and shaming the abusers.
The provincial minister for social welfare informed the assembly that the rules for the child protection units had been amended, and after the amended rules were okayed by the provincial cabinet, the government planned to make recruitment for the 96 posts to make these units operational. He said last year the finance department had approved these posts, but the recruitment process ran into problems with the rules. Now that the rules had been amended the recruitment process would start soon. A law on child protection was enacted in 2010. Under the law, child protection units were to be set up across the province. Unicef had established four units in 2011, and NGOs had set up another eight units. The 12 units functioned till 2019 and registered around 3,900 cases. In March last year, Unicef handed over its four units to the government.
The opposition justifiably criticised the delay in reactivating the child protection units and asked the government to involve opposition members with expertise in law for child protection. It’s essential to nip every evil in the bud.


Looming extinction


The desolating videos of scrawny polar bears wandering onto iceless human settlements in search of food have been vociferously circulating online. Being one of the animals most susceptible to environmental changes, these polar bears are currently listed on the Red List of Threatened Species due to high risk of endangerment. There can be no starker image of the adverse effects of climate change and global warming.
Once considered as the apex predator of the Arctic, polar bears are now starving, barely clinging on for dear life. The shrinking sea ice in the Artic has significantly decreased their hunting time, and their dwindling body weight has made it harder for them to survive entire winters without food. If the effect of global warming continues unabated, researchers fear that these exotic creatures will be wiped out by the year 2100. The event will surely be the first out of the many dominos to fall since many other animals may be next on the list. It is just a matter of time before the frequency of such extinction events significantly exacerbate and we witness multiple species going extinct at the same time. What is most striking however is the rate at which such degradation is unfolding. In the past, it would normally take thousands of years for a species to go extinct. Current trends indicate that 12 of the 13 analysed sub-population of polar bears will be eradicated within 80 years, considering that our planet is now warming twice as fast. The inevitable extinction of these polar bears is a harsh reality that we all need to acknowledge; however, it is important to remain optimistic.
The current pandemic crisis has highlighted the environmental benefits of halting industrial and economic activities. We need to reconfigure world systems around the idea of global warming by making them more resilient to future changes. An extinction event unraveling in front of our very eyes should surely be enough to coerce the world into taking radical action.
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