Human rights defender's story: Iftikhar Mubarik from Pakistan

Iftikhar Mubarik from Pakistan, associated with the Children Advocacy Network, champions children's rights, focusing on policy advocacy and the implementation of the CRC to address issues like child exploitation, marriage disparity, and the need for an empowered children's rights commission.

Iftikhar Mubarik, from Pakistan and associated with the Children Advocacy Network, is deeply committed to advocating for children’s rights. His core focus is on policy advocacy for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the human rights commitments made by the Government of Pakistan, aiming to improve the overall human rights situation with a special emphasis on children.

Mubarik highlights significant issues faced by children in Pakistan, including sexual abuse, child exploitation, and the severe problem of domestic child labor. Another critical issue is child marriage, with a discriminatory legal marriage age of 16 for girls and 18 for boys. Additionally, access to sexual and reproductive health services is denied.

Mubarik advocates for the establishment of an independent and empowered commission on the rights of children to serve as a monitoring body ensuring the implementation of the CRC and to protect children from all forms of abuse and exploitation. He emphasises the potential role of UN Special Procedures in addressing issues like child trafficking and child pornography through the mandate of Special Rapporteur on the issues, which are prevalent in Pakistan. Despite advocacy efforts, the government’s attention to these issues remains insufficient. Therefore, Mubarik suggests utilising the concluding recommendations of Treaty bodies and the UPR process as key advocacy tools for children’s rights in Pakistan.

Through the training provided by ISHR during the Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme (HRDAP), Mubarik has enhanced his capacity as an advocate, gaining skills in organising and planning meetings with human rights entities, diplomats, and networks based in Geneva, thereby strengthening his advocacy efforts for children’s rights in Pakistan.