Dachepalli minor’s rape mirrors rising attacks on girls, women in Andhra Pradesh

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, about 16,000 cases of crime against women are registered in Andhra Pradesh every year.
Image used for representational purpose.
Image used for representational purpose.

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Dachepalli incident in which a nine-year old girl was allegedly raped by a 55-year rickshaw-puller has not only left the State in shock, but once again threw up a question over safety of women and girl children.

Despite the government claiming that several measures like enactment of laws and launch of apps have been taken for protection of women and children from sexual assaults, incidents of harassment of the fair sex continue to occur throughout Andhra Pradesh.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), about 16,000 cases of crime against women are registered in Andhra Pradesh every year. As many as 16,352 cases of crime against women were registered in AP in 2016 as against 15,967 in 2015.

Andhra Pradesh stood fourth in the country in sexual harassment cases by registering 1,305 cases in 2016. Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra occupy the dubious first and second positions respectively.

The State witnessed 994 rapes in 2016 as against 1,027 in 2015. It also saw 190 cases of attempt to rape being registered. As many as 463 rape cases were related to those involving minor girls. The NCRB data says out of the total number of rape cases, the accused in 79 were family members while 361 were neighbours.

In the year 2016, out of the 830 cases registered under POCSO Act in the State, 459 were related to rape of children, which account for over 55 per cent of the total number of cases. Records say a number of cases registered under the POCSO Act are pending in the State.

While some people bat for fast-track courts to instill fear among criminals, some say that only a change in their mindset can bring down crimes against women.

Commenting on the recent incident at Dachepalli, senior advocate and president of Forum for Legal Professionals Kuppili Muralidhar said that the government should tighten the law enforcement mechanism and see that the culprits are convicted within two months of their trial by fast-track courts. He said, "Constitution of fast-track courts will surely bring down the number of cases as they will instill fear among men with tendency to commit crime against women."

General secretary of Human Rights Forum and Assistant Professor from Damodaram Sanjeevayya National Law University (DSNLU) K Sudha said, "Apart from law enforcement, there should be a change in in the mindset of people. Every case of crime against women should be tried by fast-track courts."

The apps being launched by the State government to control crime against women have not yielded the desired results. The Abhayam and iClik centres, which were launched for safety of women, have failed to deliver due to the lack of proper promotion. The iClik centres opened at several places in Vizag, including the Beach Road, are dysfunctional, while Abhayam receives hoax calls most of the time.

Even claims of the State Women's Commission over creating awareness about sexual offences among schoolchildren and safety of women at workplace are barely true.

The commission had decided to take up campaigns on 'Good Touch-Bad Touch' at schools for girl children. However, it is not being implemented properly. Even the proposal for 'Internal Complaint Committees' at all workplaces in the State has not materialised.

State Women's Commission member Srivani Koyyana said that awareness campaigns on 'Good Touch-Bad Touch' were conducted in Vizianagaram district while posters are being designed for campaigns in Srikakulam.

Speaking to TNIE, DGP M Malakondaiah said, "This year, cases of crime against women have come down when compared to the figures in the previous two years. However, the rape of a minor girl at Dachepalli was an unfortunate incident. Such crimes are on the rise in rural areas of Guntur district and Prakasam district."

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