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Rising Number of Crimes Against Women

Reflects Decay in India's Institutions
Recent cases show how political elites and administrators choose to help perpetrators while
doing everything to shun efforts to secure justice for victims.

The two sickening recent crimes – the gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in
Kathua and the rape and systematic exploitation of an 18-year-old woman (and her family) in
Unnao – have laid to rest the political rhetoric of ‘civilisational superiority’. They reflect a deep
decay in our public institutions – political parties, the police, lawyers and the bureaucracy.

In the Kathua case, a violent crime against a child was apathetically pursued by the police. A
group of influential lawyers tried to prevent the filing of the chargesheet, while Hindu political
interest groups came out in support of the accused. The case in Unnao reflects the well-known,
unfortunate story of those wielding muscle power often using it to grant impunity to their own
ministers, even when they are accused of sordid crimes.

There is a common thread seen in both these cases – political elites and administrators choose to
help perpetrators while doing everything to shun efforts to secure justice for the victims. The
degree of collusion seen in protecting accused rapists and others committing horrendous crimes
against women is nauseating, threatening our faith in India’s democratic ideals and its

On rising crimes against women

Incidents of rape (and other crimes against women) have risen sharply over the last few years.
The latest National Crime Records Bureau data reflect how incidents of rapes have gone up by
12-15%, while other crimes have risen by 3-5%.

If we just take the city-wise percentage share of (reported) crimes against women to the total
share, cities like Bengaluru and Pune are witnessing a higher incidence of crimes against women
(in recent years), with rapid urbanisation and inadequate local governance measures to ensure
women’s safety.

In recent years, the majority of cases categorised as crimes against women were reported under
‘cruelty by husband or his relatives’ (32.6%), followed by ‘assault on woman with intent to
outrage her modesty’ (25%), ‘kidnapping and abduction of woman’ (19%) and ‘rape’ (11.5%).
The highest number of rapes have been reported from the states of Madhya Pradesh (4,882),
Uttar Pradesh (4,816) and Maharashtra (4,189).
The number of cases reported during 2016 was higher in most cases than previous years. Cases
pending from previous year’s investigations were also very common in cities like Delhi, Patna
and Bengaluru. The situation worsens when one carefully studies the numbers in semi-urban and
rural areas (which includes more than 70% of the nation’s population).

On institutional inertia

The paucity of data available on crimes against women and rate of disposal of police cases in
rural, semi-urban areas makes it difficult for us to know the actual degree to which such crimes
have increased over the last few years. Further, most of the statistical projections highlighted
above reflect gross-underreporting of crimes against women (including cases of workplace
harassment, domestic violence, etc.).

The problem of a lack of empirics in understanding the degree of violence in our society remains
further compounded by the institutional inertia seen in the response to rising violence. Political
groups and the local justice system offer little confidence to women (and their families) to report
cases and actually seek justice.

Addressing any crime over the long term requires persistent social intervention from public
institutions and agencies of the state (and beyond) at three levels – incentive, opportunity and
consequences. A lot is written about initiating social awareness and legal remedies (via severer
punishments etc.) for necessitating changes in social attitude to address gendered perceptions.
Similarly, a multitude of conferences and workshops are organised to deliberate and explore
alternatives for improving public infrastructure systems to reduce the opportunity aspect of
crimes against women.

However, the third aspect, of the consequences of a crime on the perpetrator and on the victim,
requires greater attention. By consequences, one can refer to the potential consequences (of
committing any crime) for perpetrators, and the very significant consequences for victims, who
face numerous cases of harassment and molestation (before or after reporting a case), therefore
often choosing to stay away from the legal system.

Delay in judicial decision-making and the refusal of the police to register or dispose of reported
cases make the consequences worse for the victims. The role of the civil society, and particularly
the media, becomes vital in ensuring due process works (through periodic reporting of cases, for
instance) while encouraging greater public awareness in protecting the agency of women’s

The very survival of our faith in India’s democracy rests on facilitating a legal and public
institutional system that actively encourages and supports the agency of women and their
freedom. To ensure this, it is morally imperative for the police to act professionally and follow
due process on matters of all crimes against women; and for lawyers and judges to turn up in
court and do their jobs well
Crimes against women and children on the rise Mar 9, 2018,

MUMBAI: Violent crimes against women and children are on the rise in Maharashtra, showed
provisional data for 2017 submitted by the criminal investigation department.
The data, which was part of the state’s economic survey 2017-18 tabled in both Houses of the
state legislature on Thursday, showed that 32,100 cases of crime against women were recorded
in 2017, compared to 31,275 in 2016 and 31,126 in 2015. The data also showed that 15,534 cases
of crime against children were registered in 2017, compared to 13,591 in 2016 and 13,941 in

While 4,144 rape offences were reported in 2015, the number rose to 4,189 in 2016, and further
to 4,356 in 2017. Also, cases of kidnapping and abduction jumped from 5,096 in 2015 to 6,169
in 2016 to 7,113 in 2017. Molestation cases also rose from 11,396 in 2016 to 12,238 last year,
the survey said.

In some good news for women on International Women’s Day, crimes like dowry deaths, cruelty
by husband and relatives, sexual harassment and immoral trafficking saw a drop. Cases of sexual
harassment dropped from 924 in 2016 to 864 in 2017, of immoral trafficking from 303 in 2016 to
281 in 2017 and of dowry deaths from 248 in 2016 to 234 in 2017.

However, cases of child rape rose from 2,086 in 2016 to 2,305 in 2017. Also, the number of
cases lodged for kidnapping and abduction of children increased from 8,016 in 2016 to 8,850 in
2017, the survey said. While 123 child abandonment cases were registered in 2017, only 26 such
cases were recorded in 2016.

Criticizing the government over the rise in crimes against women and children, the Opposition
said the data raises a question on the law and order situation in the state and is a comment on the
home department, which is headed by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Commenting on the rise in number of cases, a state official said, “Awareness of the law is
leading to an increase in registration of cases. Also, when a child or woman goes missing, police
have been instructed to register a case of kidnapping, which has led to the rise in numbers.”