A Year After Nirbhaya, Rapid Rise in Number of Rape Complaints
By Kanu Sarda - NEW DELHI
Published: 15th Dec 2013 08:23:08 AM
Exactly a year ago, a gang rape in Delhi shook the nation, triggering unprecedented public outcry and forcing the powers that be to sit up, take notice and act. However, stringent changes in law and setting up of fast track courts that followed have not been able to bring down the number of rape and sexual harassment cases, but reporting of such incidents has increased manifold.
Thanks to amended laws, there is now provision for increased sentence for rape convicts, including life-term and death sentence, besides stringent punishment for offences such as acid attacks, stalking and voyeurism.
The government has also amended various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Evidence Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
According to the amended law, a rape convict can be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than 20 years, which may extend to remainder of the convict’s natural life. It also provides for the death sentence to repeat offenders. And for the first time, stalking and voyeurism have been defined as non-bailable offences if repeated for a second time, while acid attack convicts can get a 10-year jail sentence.
A few months after the horrific rape and death of young paramedic Nirbhaya, several laws were amended within no time, new recruitments took place, cases were heard expeditiously but the pendency of cases continues to mount.
Data from the National Crime Records Bureau reveals there has been an eight-fold increase in the number of rapes in the last four decades. The rise in the number of rape cases is the most rapid compared to other serious crimes such as murder, robbery and kidnapping.
Of the 24,923 reported rapes in India in 2012, only 24 per cent resulted in convictions.
As per data available till October, complaints of rape went up by as much as 125 per cent, compared with the first 10 months of 2012 and that of this year. The number of complaints has already crossed the limit of last year.
If 590 rape cases were registered in the full year of 2012, as many as 1,330 complaints have been filed till October, 2013.
Molestation complaints show the biggest jump at 440 per cent if the comparable 10-month period of 2012 and 2013 is considered and 291 per cent if the full year of 2012 and first 10 months of 2013 are analysed.
The shocking figures were made available by the government while the apex court heard a complaint on police excesses on a group protesting alleged inaction after a child was gang-raped.
Justice Singhvi, who was then heading the bench expressed dismay and said, “Crime against women has been increasing everywhere, particularly during the last five years. They have been suffering silently. Only a few cases are coming up.”
“Every day girls travelling in trains and buses are subjected to molestation. They are now protesting because they have now become more enlightened,” he added.
There were 1,036 cases of rape reported in the Indian capital this year till August 15, against 433 cases over the same period last year.
Legal experts attribute the increasing number of reported crimes to awareness. Former Delhi High Court Justice S N Dhingra said, “Earlier reportage of such cases were confined to four walls of the house and victims of rape and sexual assault were asked to keep mum and forget about the incident but with the heightened awareness of the law more and more women are coming forward to fight for their rights.”