By Chaitanya Mallapur
The number of rapes reported each year in Delhi has more than tripled over the last five years, registering an increase of 277 per cent from 572 in 2011 to 2,155 in 2016, according to data released recently by the Delhi Police.
The year after the Nirbhaya incident — in which a 23-year-old paramedical student was raped by a group of men in a moving bus in Delhi on December 16, 2012 — saw a 132 per cent spike in the number of cases reported, with a sustained 32 per cent increase thereafter, from 1,636 cases in 2013 to 2,155 in 2016.
Cases pertaining to “assault on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty” (under Section 354 of the Indian Pel Code) have increased by 473 per cent from 727 in 2012 to 4,165 in 2016.
The first five months of 2017 saw 836 rape cases being reported to the police. The figure does not quite capture the continuing horror that women in the tiol Capital Region (NCR) face. In the 48 hours from June 19, for instance, five rape incidents were recorded.
The rise in the number of cases does not necessarily imply an increase in the number of rapes; it can mean greater willingness on the part of survivors to approach the authorities, as well as a greater propensity among police officials to register complaints.
One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IndiaSpend that the rise in the number of reported rapes is due to advisories issued by the government and the Supreme Court of India that action would be taken against police personnel who fail to register a First Information Report (FIR) for rape and other cognisable offences.
Ant Kumar Astha, a Delhi-based activist and lawyer, agreed: “Reporting of sexual offenses against women has gone up with stricter implementation of laws like Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, and the [ectment of the] Crimil Law Amendment Act 2013.”
The Crimil Law Amendment Act, popularly known as the Nirbhaya Act, came into force on April 2, 2013, and inserted a provision in the Code of Crimil Procedure to make it mandatory for crimil complaints of a sexual ture to be recorded by women police officers, and prescribes rigorous imprisonment of between six months and two years in addition to a monetary pelty for a public servant who fails to register a complaint of a cognisable offence.
“With more stringent laws being passed, public awareness being created, and the media reporting more cases of sexual assault, reporting of cases has increased, but this is still far from being representative of the number of cases that occur,” said Preethi Pinto, Programme Coorditor on Violence against Women and Children at Mumbai-based SNEHA (Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action).
At the same time, a comparison of Delhi Police reports from 2014 and 2015 reveals a rising trend in the number of rape cases withdrawn, from 81 to 104, possibly indicating a lack of faith in the crimil-justice system, especially as cases fail judicial scrutiny.
Meanwhile, the conviction rate for rape in Delhi, though better than the all-India average, dipped to 29.7 per cent in 2015, the latest year for which data are available from the tiol Crime Records Bureau. Across India, only one in four rape trials leads to conviction.After the Nirbhaya incident, the Delhi Police set up 161 help-desks staffed by female officers, and announced that 70 per cent of female officers would report for over eight-hour shifts each day.
In 2013, the Ministry of Fince announced it would set up a Rs 1,000-crore Nirbhaya Fund to drive initiatives aimed at enhancing the safety of women in the country. Thus far an amount of Rs 3,100 crore has been allocated, according to the government’s reply to the Rajya Sabha on April 6, 2017.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) has initiated three schemes under the Nirbhaya Fund — One Stop Centre (OSC) for women affected by violence, under which 84 centres are currently operatiol; Universalisation of Women Helpline, under which 18 states and Union Territories have set up helplines; and Mahila Police Volunteer (MPV), whose pilots are currently running in several states.
In a May 26, 2016, order, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to formulate a tiol policy for providing relief to rape survivors, saying the Nirbhaya Fund amounted to “just paying a lip service”.
Yet, laws and policing alone cannot prevent crimes of a sexual ture.
(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest jourlism platform, with whom Chaitanya Mallapur is an alyst. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org)