During the first quarter of 2023, Punjab province in Pakistan witnessed an alarming surge in violence against women, with over 10,000 reported cases. Among all the districts, Lahore recorded the highest concentration of these incidents.
The Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO) released a report highlighting these distressing statistics, shedding light on the grim reality of violence against children as well. From January to April 2023, a total of 1,768 cases of violence targeting children were reported. Shockingly, on average, seven children fell victim to sexual abuse every day. The Punjab Police recorded a significant number of First Information Reports (FIRs) related to violence against women and children, sparking serious concerns.
Between January 1st and April 30th, 2023, the police officially reported 10,365 cases of violence against women and 1,768 cases of violence against children. However, the SSDO believes that these figures underestimate the true extent of the issue due to underreporting caused by societal stigmas and a lack of trust in law enforcement.
The report delved into the details of the crimes committed, revealing that during the four-month period, 5,551 women were reported as kidnapped in Punjab. Among all the districts, Lahore witnessed the highest number of such cases, reaching 1,427 incidents.
Physical assault ranked as the next prevalent crime, with Lahore being the primary hotspot, experiencing 504 incidents. Additionally, there were 1,111 reported cases of rape and 613 cases of human trafficking, both of which saw Lahore recording the highest number of instances. Disturbingly, violence against women also occurred within private spaces, with 219 cases of domestic violence documented. Gujranwala emerged as the district with the highest number of domestic violence incidents, and the report also noted 53 cases of honor killings.
Regarding violence against children, sexual violence emerged as the most prevalent form, with 858 reported cases. Faisalabad and Lahore were identified as the districts with the highest concentration of these cases. Furthermore, within this short period, 613 children were reported as kidnapped, with Lahore alone accounting for one-third of these cases.
Apart from sexual violence, other crimes against children included human trafficking (221 cases), murder (48 cases), child labor (24 cases), and child marriage (4 cases). Notably, Chiniot accounted for nearly one-fifth of the human trafficking cases reported.