The number of rape cases across the country has increased with Madhya Pradesh reporting highest number of such crimes, according to an official data.
In most of these cases, the perpetrator of the crime was an acquaintance with the victim, according to data provided by the National Crime Records Bureau.
A total of 21,467 rape cases were reported in 2008, registering an increase of 3.5% over the previous year. Provisional data for 2009 shows that 21,397 rape cases were reported during the year.
Madhya Pradesh reported as many as 2,937 cases, accounting for 13.7% and highest of total rape cases, followed by West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh at 2,263 and 1,871 cases respectively.
These states were followed by Maharashtra (1,558), Assam (1,438), Rajasthan (1,355) and Bihar (1,302). The lowest number of cases were reported from Nagaland (19).
Women in the age-group of 18-30 years appeared most vulnerable to the crime.
In 2008, 57.2% (12,299) of the victims were from this age group, only 0.5% less than in 2007 (11,984). In as many as 91% (19,542) of these cases, the offenders were known to the victims. Neighbours were accused in 33.1% of rape cases.
Worried over these figures, the Consultative Committee of the Parliament attached to the Ministry of Women and Child Development at its recent meeting decided to focus on the principle of restorative justice to help the victims of the heinous crime survive.
"Rape is one of the most violent forms of crimes against women, which not only impacts her bodily integrity but in the long-run, impairs her capacity to develop meaningful personal and social relationships, and affects her life and livelihood," Minister of State for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath said in the meeting.
She said the Supreme Court had directed the National Commission for Women (NCW) to evolve a "scheme so as to wipe out the tears of unfortunate victims of rape".
The Apex Court observed that with regard to Directive Principles of the Constitution, it was necessary to set up a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, as victims are too traumatised to continue in employment in some cases.
Following this order, the NCW held consultations with various stakeholders such as women's organisations, NGOs, members of the judiciary and police and drafted a scheme.
This comprehensive scheme titled "Financial Assistance and Support Services to Victims of Rape: A Scheme for Restorative Justice" was formulated and discussed in a meeting held last week.
Some of the salient features of this proposed scheme are that it covers rape victims in all age groups. Legal heirs are also entitled to financial assistance where death of the affected woman has resulted as a consequence of the crime.
The victim will also be entitled to interim financial assistance of Rs 20,000 to take care of her immediate needs.
Support services such as shelter, counselling, medical aid, legal assistance, education and vocational training shall also be provided.
Assistance of upto Rs 50,000 can be provided for these support services and final financial assistance of Rs 1.30 lakh to address her long-term needs.
In cases, involving minors or mentally-challenged/differently-abled women, women who got infected with STDs or pregnant due to the crime, the quantum of assistance may be enhanced up to Rs three lakh.
In case of victim's death, her legal heirs, including minors, shall be entitled to Rs one lakh as assistance if she was a non-earning member or Rs two lakh in case she was an earning member of the family.
The scheme envisages the setting up of criminal injuries relief and rehabilitation boards at the district, state and national levels.