The recent confidential report revealing the alarming rise in child abuse crimes in Punjab demands immediate and resolute action. The statistics presented in the report are deeply unsettling, with boys being victimised more frequently than girls. Such revelations should serve as a clarion call for the authorities and society as a whole to prioritise the protection of our children and to work together to eradicate this heinous crime.
The report’s findings shed light on the chilling reality that perpetrators often reside within close proximity to their victims. This emphasises the need for greater vigilance within communities and highlights the importance of creating safe environments where children can grow and thrive without fear. Socio-economic stresses, power imbalances, and cultural taboos are just a few of the contributing factors that perpetuate the cycle of abuse. It is clear that addressing this issue requires a comprehensive approach that tackles not only the immediate crime but also the underlying societal factors. The recommendations put forth by the provincial home department offer a starting point. Strengthening the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (CPWB) is crucial, as it plays a central role in safeguarding children. By establishing a dedicated team of professionals and expanding their capacity, the CPWB can effectively respond to cases of abuse, provide support to victims, and work towards their rehabilitation.
Furthermore, coordination among various stakeholders, including the police, parents, and relevant agencies, is essential. Sensitisation and capacity-building programs for those who interact with children regularly, such as teachers and healthcare providers, can contribute to the early identification of abuse cases and the provision of appropriate support. From a legal perspective, establishing specialised courts for child abuse cases and reviewing existing child protection laws are critical steps towards ensuring justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2023.