Situational analysis of crime against women and children in India
Violence against women and children is a grave public health concern, with costs at multiple levels of society. Although violence is a threat to everyone, women and children are particularly susceptible to victimization because their rights are often overlooked and they often lack appropriate means of protection. In some societies, certain types of violence are considered socially or legally acceptable, thereby further contributing to the risk to women and children. Violence against women and children has tremendous costs to communities, nations and societies – for public well being, health and safety, and for school achievement, productivity, law enforcement, and public programmes and budgets.
This kind of violence is an extreme manifestation of gender inequality and systematic gender based discrimination. The effects of violence can remain with women and children for a lifetime, and can pass from one generation to another. Studies show that children who have witnessed, or been subjected to, violence are more likely to become victims or abusers themselves.
In the past decade, research has documented the growing magnitude of such violence, but gaps in the data still remain. Victims of violence have fear of stigmatization or societal condemnation and thus often hesitate to report crimes.
Crime Against Women in India 2007-16
Crimes against women increased by more than 180% over a period of the past one decade from (1,85,312 in 2007 to 3,38,934 in 2016).
39 crimes against women were reported every hour in India, up from 21 in 2007, according to the ‘Crime in India 2016’ report by NCRB. Majority of cases under crimes against women were reported under ‘Cruelty by Husband or His Relatives’ (32.6%) followed by ‘Assault on Women with Intent to Outrage her Modesty’ (25.0%), ‘Kidnaping & Abduction of Women’ (19.0%) and ‘Rape’ (11.5%).
Uttar Pradesh reported 14.5% (49,262 out of 3,38,954 cases) of total cases of crimes against women followed by West Bengal (9.6%) (32,513 cases) during 2016. Delhi UT reported the highest crime rate (160.4) compared to the national average rate of 55.2.
Crime Against children in India 2006-16
Crime against children were increased more than 500% over a period of the past one decade (1,06,958 in 2016 over 18,967 in 2006).
The total number of crimes against children were recorded 1,06,958 in 2016 among them 84.4% crimes were recorded under two heads, kidnapping & abduction (51.1%) and cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (33.6%) including child rape.
More than 42% of crimes against children have been recorded in just three states, namely Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh. While Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 16% of recorded crimes against children, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh closely follow with 14% and 11% respectively.
Huge pendency & relatively low conviction rate in crime against women and children
The convection rate of the crimes against women was 18.9% in 2016 and is the lowest of the decade. The conviction rate in the cases registered under POCSO was much less than the overall conviction rate in case of all IPC crimes. In 2016, the conviction rate in cases registered under POCSO was 29.6% against 46.8% for all IPC crimes. The low conviction rate is coupled with a high pendency of cases.
Preventing violence against women and children
The right of women and children to live free of violence depends on the protection of their human rights and a strong chain of justice. When it comes to preventing violence, we must address the root causes of gender inequality and discrimination. Evidence shows that the gender gap is greater in the status of women’s health, participation in economy, education levels, and representation in politics. This required a long–term systematic and comprehensive approach that recognizes and protects women’s and children’s full and equal human rights. We must promote a culture of equality between men and women through institutional and legal reform, education, awareness – raising and the full engagement of men and boys.
Protection of women and children in our country cannot be ensured with just having legislation and guidelines. We as a country need to commit to cultivate a culture of zero tolerance for violence against women and children. We should be vigilant and cognizant of the fact that women and children are at risk with gaps in infrastructure, processes and systems as well as people. It is non-negotiable for the state and other duty bearers to equip themselves in recognizing these risks and put robust systems and processes to assess and eliminate the same.