Senate okays Zainab Alert Bill

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The Senate passed on Wednesday the Zainab Alert, Recovery and Response Bill, 2019. It will make provisions to raise alert, response and recovery of missing and abducted children.

Zainab Alert has been named after seven-year-old Zainab
Ansari who was raped and murdered in Kasur. Her case sparked national outrage
and a conversation about child abuse.

The bill had already been passed by the National Assembly in
January this year. The government and opposition had unanimously passed it.

It was presented on October 8, 2019 and presented before a
standing committee later next year.

An agency will be set up under this bill that will closely
work with the 1099 helpline and other helplines in several districts. When a
complaint is made via these helplines, it should be immediately transferred to
the agency so an investigation can immediately begin.

The agency will operate out of Islamabad and engage the PTA,
social media and other institutions to create a helpline and SMS service to
spread information about missing children.

Special teams, called MCRRTs, will be set up and headed by a
senior police officer. These teams will work with the local police in the cases
of missing children.

The bill has proposed the death sentence, life imprisonment
or rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 14 years for people who
abduct children.



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