By S Ubaid (NVONews.Com)
Among all the cognizable crimes recorded under the Indian Penal Code between 1971 and 2011 rape has seen the maximum rise in the country.
If the latest data of National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) is to be believed Madhya Pradesh witnessed highest number of such incidents in 2011. Unlike other crimes many cases of rapes go unreported because of deep-rooted social reasons and fear of retaliation.
Rape cases increased by 873 % from 1971, when the oldest case of rape was first recorded by NCRB. In that year 2,919 cases of rape were recorded against 24,206 in 2011. In 2010 the figure was 20,262. The NCRB had started collecting data on rape cases only from 1971 while other cognizable crimes have been chronicled from 1953.
What is tragic is that the conviction level is very low in the rape case as, against other crimes, there is hardly any witness. The victim is often pressurized not to lodge a case or if the case is actually filed they have not been pursued.
Madhya Pradesh, with 3,406 cases in 2011 is followed by West Bengal, 2,363, Uttar Pradesh, 2,042 and Rajasthan, 1,800, cases.
Among the Union Territories, Delhi with ranked first with 507 cases whereas Mumbai reported 117 cases of rape in 2011.
In 2011, there were 9,398 cases of rape involving children. Kidnapping and abduction was the second biggest crime in the country with a rise of 749 % as compared with the data chronicled in 1953.
Incidentally, the highest conviction rate in rape cases were recorded in small north-eastern states, where data on literacy, nutrition and gender ratios suggest women have a relatively high social status.
For example conviction rate in Mizoram was 96.6 percent, Nagaland 73.7%, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim both 66.7% and Meghalaya 44.4%.
But Mizoram had the highest level of rape reported to police too––9.1 per 100,000 residents. It actually does not mean that the number of rapes is high, but suggests that community pressure on the criminal justice system forces it to take rape seriously.
After rape, kidnapping and abduction, it is murder and riots which witnessed increase by 250 and 233 per cent respectively. Incidence of dacoity, burglary and house breaking, however, showed the most declining trend over a period of 59 years.
Not only the convictions of rape case is declining those of other crimes are also falling. For example the conviction of murder cases declined from 44.28% in 1973 to 36.73% in 2010.
Victims of sexual crimes now understand this fact very well. They think that it is futile to report the case to police. For example from 1973 to 1983, rape complaints doubled, but then slowed down. This is not because the cases have actually declined but because less percentage are coming to report it to police stations.
An important reason why victims remain silent is that the rapists are usually friends or relatives. Except four, all the states of India, reported that nine out of 10 alleged perpetrators were known to the victim. In Delhi, that figure was 96.6%.
This complicates the matter and put more pressure on the victims. Besides, unmarried victims fear that levelling such charges may mar their prospect of marriage.
Still in 2010, the number of alleged perpetrators either in custody or out on bail awaiting trial, was 89,707. It was just 4,991 in 1973.
Though better law and even better implementation may solve the problem, the greatest problem in India is that the way police, and even lawyers, handle the rape victims. They are hardly sensitive and always suspect that the charges levelled by the victim are concocted and made just to harass the alleged perpetrators or to extort money. There may be a handful of such cases, but the sweeping generalization has wreaked havoc in the minds of the rape victims.
Unless this is done the victims would continue to suffer and hardly anything would come out, experts feel.