Dubious distinction

Published : May 29, 2013 12:30 IST

The Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women in its report titled “Victims of sexual abuse and trafficking and their rehabilitation”, submitted on May 8, has said that if the Central government does not take immediate steps the number of victims of sexual abuse will increase at a rate that is higher than the rate of population growth in the country by the end of 2013.

The 30-member committee, headed by Congress MP, Rajkumari Ratna Singh, noted that incidents of crime against women reported in the country had increased consistently from 2007 to 2011: 1,85,312 cases in 2007, 1,95,856 cases in 2008, 2,03,804 cases in 2009, 2,13,585 cases in 2010 and 2,28,650 cases in 2011.

The report stated that despite such a spurt in crimes against women—rape, molestation, dowry death, sexual harassment, mental and physical torture, kidnapping and trafficking—the Centre did not appear to have a concrete plan to persuade States to prevent such crimes, its excuse being that police and public order are State subjects.

The committee suggested that the Centre set up a coordination committee/monitoring mechanism where crime prevention techniques and other related aspects could be discussed regularly with State governments. On the basis of these discussions, proactive measures such as providing financial assistance for modernisation of police forces for weapons, communication equipment, training and so on can be initiated within a time frame in States where improvements are significant, and remedial measures can be taken in States that are slow in improving.

Data from 53 mega cities—with a population of 10 lakh or more—show a total of 33,789 cases of crimes against women were reported from these cities in 2011 against 24,335 in 2010. Delhi, with 13.3 per cent of all such cases, topped the list followed by Bangalore, Hyderabad and Vijayawada. Delhi accounted for 17.6 per cent of rape cases, 31.8 per cent of kidnappings, 14 per cent of dowry deaths, and 10.1 per cent of molestation cases. These megacities, the committee noted, had been transformed into safe havens for criminals.

The committee also observed that data collection by the National Crime Records Bureau appeared to be faulty as its figures did not tally with those presented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It also lamented, among other things, the small number of forensic science laboratories in the country and the lack of enough fast-track courts to decide such cases expeditiously.

Purnima S. Tripathi

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