There is no let up in child abuse and exploitation crimes in Kashmir that can have long-lasting impacts on the victims with south Kashmir’s Anantnag district topping the list while north Kashmir’s Kupwara district recording a low rate.
“In Kashmir, Anantnag tops the list of child abuse and exploitation during last year,” a senior Police officer told KIF. “Kupwara district recorded a low rate.”
Giving the breakup, he said 87 cases of child abuse and exploitation were reported in Anantnag, 77 in Srinagar, Budgam 53, Baramulla 47, Kulgam 37, Ganderbal 34 , Pulwama 32, Shopian 21, Bandipora 17, and Kupwara six.
The officer said that most of the cases were of serious nature that included abduction, kidnapping, and sexual abuse.
He said that crimes against children saw over 39 percent jump last year.
“There were 845 cases in 2021 as against 606 incidents in 2020, 470 in 2019, and 473 in 2018,” the officer said. He said that there were 478 incidents of kidnapping involving 493 victims with a crime rate of 9.7 percent in 2021. Besides, there were seven cases of murder of children, four cases of infanticide, and three cases of foeticide in J&K. The murder cases, however, witnessed a decrease of 8.7 percent with 136 incidences in 2021.
Unlike the past three years when the kidnapping and abduction cases had witnessed a decline, such incidents in 2021 saw an abrupt increase in J&K.
The report said that 1013 kidnapping and abduction cases were recorded, increasing by 16 percent against 868 cases in 2020.
During the year 2022, there were 278 cases of sexual abuse against children reported in J&K. Officials said that there was more than five-fold increase in reporting of child sexual abuse cases in Kashmir division in 2019, compared to average cases over the four previous years.
The central government’s Child Protection Services Scheme (formerly the Integrated Child Protection Scheme) was extended to J&K in January 2018.
The Child Protection Services Scheme is aimed at providing a secure, protective environment for vulnerable children, including those in situations of abuse.
With the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019, the J&K POCSO Act was repealed and replaced by the POCSO (Amendment) Act, 2019.
The increased reporting of child sexual abuse cases in Kashmir is attributed to both the new J&K POCS Act, 2018, followed by the POCSO (Amendment) Act, 2019, and improved monitoring and tracking systems after implementation of the Child Protection Services Scheme.
The increase matches a similar trend in the rest of the country after the POCSO Act was first introduced in 2012.
Barriers to reporting of child abuse cases in rest of the country, particularly against persons in a position of authority known to child, are also endemic in Kashmir.