The general impression about the Northeastern states is that this part of the country is relatively safer for women. The latest data on crimes against women by the tiol Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reinforces this impression. But Assam remains an exception, having become even more unsafe for women than earlier years. galand, Manipur and Meghalaya figure in the NCRB list of the ten safest states and union territories for women. In fact, galand has emerged as the safest state in the country with only 67 cases of crime against women in 2014. Considering the female population in galand, the rate of cognizable crimes against women there comes out as 6 per cent. This is highly creditable for a state that is frequently in the headlines for extremist violence. Manipur and Meghalaya figure in the seventh and eighth positions respectively in the NCRB top ten list, where most are small states and union territories. Interestingly, Tamil du and even Bihar have made it to this list as large states.
As for Assam, it has gone the other way. If it was the seventh most unsafe state for women in 2012 and 2013, it went ‘up’ the list to the sixth position in 2014 with 19,139 incidents of crimes against women. The rate of cognizable crimes against women in Assam stood at 123.4 per cent last year, while the comparable rates for Manipur was 26.7 per cent and Meghalaya 28.8 per cent. Crimes against women in Assam made up 5.7 per cent of such cases overall in the whole country in 2014. According to the NCRB, about 40 per cent of kidpping cases were of women abducted for marriage, with UP, Bihar and Assam accounting for nearly half of such cases. With the Home department continuously under Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in the last 14 years, it is clear that women are bearing the brunt of the deteriorating law and order situation in the State. It has to be borne in mind though that the NCRB compiles its data from FIRs filed in police stations. Considering the stigma attached to women victims and the normally daunting atmosphere for them in police stations, the cases reported form only the tip of the iceberg. Activists have pointed out that crimes against women need more categories like honour killings.
Even then, the NCRB report gives an idea how the country overall and its constituent states are dealing with crimes against women. It hardly comes as a surprise how dangerous Delhi has become for women, with 15,265 cases of crime against women in 2014 compared to 12,888 cases in the previous year. But for the first time, Delhi has officially become the ‘rape capital’ of the country with 1,813 rapes in 2014, which is higher in both absolute and proportiote terms. The five least safe states for women in 2014 have been identified as Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Earlier in 2013 too, UP recorded the maximum number of crimes against women. As many as 10,628 cases of kidpping of women and girls were registered in UP last year, the highest in the country. As for gang rapes in 2014, the maximum 574 cases were recorded in UP. And now former UP chief minister and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has dismissed it all as ‘negative publicity and cards’. He has gone so far as to say that while one person commits rape, four are med in the complaint, even though ‘rape by four persons is not practically possible’! Yadav had earlier thundered at a public meeting that his party was for revoking anti-rape laws because ‘boys commit mistakes and they should not be hanged for it’. Such perverse attitude in a section of the country’s leadership indicates the dimensions of the challenge facing civil society and enlightened citizens to make the country a safer place for women.