A ‘confidential’ report from the home department has revealed that the number of boys facing atrocities of child abuse is higher than that of girls in Punjab.

Dawn shared the findings of the said report on Friday, revealing that during the first five and a half months of 2023, a total of 1,390 incidents of child abuse were reported in Punjab, among them 69 per cent were boys while 31 per cent were girls.

The report identified several key factors hindering the control of sexual crimes against children and it also provided recommendations to combat them.

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The report disclosed that out of all the culprits facing trials in courts in cases of child abuse, 55 per cent were neighbors, 32 per cent were strangers, and 13 per cent were relatives.

Furthermore, the report revealed that Gujranwala region/division reported the highest number of child abuse incidents (220), followed by DG Khan (199), Faisalabad (186), Multan (140), Bahawalpur (129), Sheikhupura (128), Sahiwal (127), Sargodha (103), and others. The Rawalpindi region and Lahore city had the lowest numbers, with 69 and 89 cases, respectively.

“It is also concerning that many cases go unreported. Fear and cultural taboos in our society make it difficult to report such crimes,” read the findings of the report. It underscored that lack of support from family members, friends, neighbors, or the community makes it immensely difficult for the victim to speak up against the abuser.

The home department recommended that the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (CPWB) play a more active role in child protection. It suggested that the CPWB should have a dedicated team of professionals, including child protection officers, psychologists, law officers, and doctors, to safeguard children from abuse and aid victim rehabilitation.

The report stressed the need for a well-defined coordination mechanism among different stakeholders, including police, parents, CPWBs, and relevant federal and provincial agencies. It strongly recommended that national and provincial legislatures review existing child protection laws and reform the existing apparatus.

The home department has sent the report to the Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) and the Regional Police Officers (RPOs) for strict implementation of provided recommendations.