The number of reported instances of crimes against women has been rising across the country over the first decade and a half of the 21st century, though successive Central and State governments have announced and implemented one measure after another to ensure their safety.
Data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) under the Ministry of Home Affairs, including the latest set of numbers for 2014, show that the number of reported incidents of crime against women more than doubled from 1,43,795 in 2001 to 3,37,992 in 2014.
The worst offender was Delhi, which saw a mammoth jump of 566 per cent in the total number of crimes against women, followed by West Bengal, Assam, Bihar and Odisha. All States with significant populations saw an increase in the incidence of crimes against women, the lone exception being Tamil Nadu, which has witnessed a decline, from 10,111 cases in 2001 to 6,325 in 2014, a fall of 37.44 per cent. However, it must be noted that Tamil Nadu’s record has been helped by a steep fall in cases under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and not an overall decline in crimes against women. Like other States, it has registered a growth in the number of cases of rape, kidnapping and abduction and cruelty by husbands or their relatives, although the absolute numbers are much lower when compared with the worst offenders.
The category of “cruelty by husband or his relatives” has accounted for nearly a third of all reported instances of crime against women in the years under review, more than doubling from 49,170 in 2001 to 1,22,877 in 2014.
All major categories, such as rape, kidnapping and abduction, dowry deaths, and assault with intent to outrage modesty, have registered increases over the past 14 years, with kidnapping and abduction clocking the highest rise of 291 per cent—from 14,645 cases in 2001 to 57,311 in 2014.
In 2014, according to the NCRB report, a person known to the victim was the culprit in 86 per cent of the total number of rape cases all over the country, with the percentage being higher than 90 in 16 of the 36 States/Union Territories.
Apart from 674 cases of incest rape (rape by a blood relation), there were 966 cases where the perpetrators were close family members and in 2,217 cases, victims were raped by relatives.
A total of 8,344 cases were reported in which victims were raped by neighbours, with Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra accounting for nearly half of all such cases in the country. There were 618 reported instances where the victims were raped by employers or co-workers.
Among States with significant populations, Bihar (52.8 per cent) and West Bengal (58.9 per cent) saw the majority of rapes being committed by people not known to the victim.