Human Rights

Punjab: 2534 Children Kidnapped, 891 Abused in 2023

According to statistics provided by the Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO), the number of cases of violence against children in the province of Punjab were alarmingly high in 2023, indicating the need for urgent attention from relevant stakeholders. The most rampant crime against children was kidnapping, with a total of 2,534 cases reported in 2023, almost at par with the 2,539 cases in 2022, showing that there was little to no improvement.

This would indicate that on average, 7 children were kidnapped almost every day in 2023. In terms of hotspot districts, a vast majority of cases were reported from Lahore (840), Sialkot (194), and Gujranwala (143). Similarly, the number of cases of sexual abuse were also a major point of concern, with a total of 891 cases in the year 2023, compared to 621 in 2022.

This would indicate that about 17 children were sexually abused every week in 2023. Once again, Lahore (346) was a highlighted hotspot, followed by Sheikhupura (76) and Bahawalnagar (61). Additionally, 12 cases of child pornography were also reported.

The increasing number of child murdered cases is another significant cause of for concern where 493 cases were reported in 2023, indicating an average of 9 children murdered every week. Lahore (61), Faisalabad (32), and Gujranwala (26) were the major hotspots that accounted for a huge chunk of cases.

The incidence of trafficking and physical abuse of children nearly doubled from 2022 to 2023. 157 children were subject to physical abuse in 2023, compared to 83 in 2022. Likewise, 108 children were trafficked in 2023, compared to 49 in 2022. The hotspots of physical violence included Sialkot (37), Faisalabad (16) and Sheikhupura (11), whereas Toba Tek Singh (51) and Chiniot (35) were highlighted hotspots for trafficking.

Syed Kausar Abbas, Executive Director at SSDO stated, although the number of cases are high but SSDO appreciates the Punjab police for ensuring the registration of cases of violence against children. The actual abused numbers of children can be much higher than the reported number. Police needs to spread its surveillance and engage the local community to identify the culprits of child abuse in the society.

He further said that police has improved registration of cases but judiciary needs to play proactive roles in terms of conviction of the accused and give severe punishment through speedy trial of the cases related to children. Kausar Abbas further said that “Every number represents a child whose safety has been compromised and childhood shattered.

It is the collective responsibility of all, stakeholders – authorities, communities, and individuals alike – to take decisive action to protect our children from violence and exploitation. Only our joint efforts can make a profound difference in ensuring a safer, brighter future for every child.”

This data was collected by filing a “Right to Information” request with the Punjab Police under Article 19-A of the constitution and Punjab Transparency & Right to Information Act 2013.

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