The number of rape cases reported in Tamil Nadu witnessed a 26 per cent rise in 2013, according to latest statistics released by the State police.
While 735 rape cases were registered by the police in 2012, the figure rose to 923 in 2013. The sharp increase in rape cases has to be seen against the backdrop of the December 2012 Delhi gang-rape and murder of a para-medical student, which heightened national attention on sexual violence against women.
In the previous six years, the number of rape cases in the State was never above 15 per cent and in some years there was a dip in the figures.
Chennai city, with nearly 10 per cent of the State’s population, has recorded 83 rape cases, which is the highest among the districts. But some rural areas, with much lesser population, have sprung a surprise with staggeringly high number of rape cases.
Tirunelveli district, excluding the twin cities of Tirunelveli and Palayamkottai, has recorded 74 rape cases, and Villupuram district accounted for 67 such cases. Among the cities, Tiruchy registered the least number of rape cases with 10 FIRs under IPC Section 376 filed during the year.
Activists said the jump in the number of rape cases need not necessarily mean that the State is becoming more unsafe for women. The statistics could also be an indication of a positive change in the society: more rape victims are coming forward to lodge complaints.
“Historically, crimes against women are always under reported. One of the contributing factors for the rise in the number of rape cases in recent years is the empowerment of women and changes in the social norms. Women are now emboldened because of the support systems available to them,” said rights activist and lawyer Sudha Ramalingam.