Three years after the horrific gang rape of 2012 that shook the nation and prompted the government to change rape laws in the country, Delhi still continues to be unsafe for women.
Sample this: This year, police statistics show 26 cases of sexual crimes were reported every day in the Capital. To put it in a different way, one rape case was reported every four hours while one molestation case was reported every alternate hour in 2015.
This points to two things — Delhi is still unsafe and more women are coming out to register cases.
Crime registration in Delhi was abysmally low in the past two decades. In 1998, 64,882 crimes were registered but the number fell to 54,384 in 2001 and 53,353 in 2011, pointing to the fact that many crimes against women were never reported as the police had been hushing up cases.
This changed after the December 16 rape when the police were told to convert all women-related crimes into FIRs verbatim.
The result: there has been a rise of over 250% in rape cases and around 700% spike in molestation cases from 2011 to 2015. In 2011, 572 rape and 657 molestation cases were registered while this year till December 2, the number stood at 2,017 and 5,049, respectively.
Deependra Pathak, joint commissioner of police (southwestern range), said the Delhi Police in co-ordination with several NGOs conducted surveys to determine the root cause behind the rise in crime against women and take remedial steps.
“An overall study helped us identify 44 police station areas where such cases are often reported. We increased PCR and police presence on the streets while 10 to 15 women cops were deployed in police stations to handle women-related crimes. Any rape case is now probed only by women investigators,” said Pathak.
Self defence programs are also organised across the city for women.
Some localities that reported a high rate of crime against women are Govindpuri, Malviya Nagar, Bhalaswa Dairy, Vasant Vihar, Mehrauli, and others. Pathak explained why: “Physical proximity in such densely populated areas is leading to the so-called immoral situations. Lack of basic amenities and proper education, poverty with augmented unemployment are other factors behind sexual crimes.”
“The easy availability of pornographic items, rising use of alcohol and drugs, and the desire to experiment sexually among youngsters affect the mindset of the youth. The role of police in preventing such sexual crimes is limited as a number of socio-economic factors and criminogenic factors are responsible for the prevalent attitude against women,” he said.
As far as putting brakes rising crimes against women is concerned, Police claim they have done a lot . But they admit that a majority of them are based on actions to be taken after sexual crimes are committed. They want other agencies concerned and the civil society to do their bit to prevent crimes against women.
“After identifying dark and isolated spots, we have increased PCR and motorcycle patrolling in such areas. The civic agencies should make arrangements for proper lighting. The prime focus should be on providing education to children. Providing employment to youngsters will prevent them from entering the crime world,” Deepak Mishra, special commissioner of police (law and order), said.
But women activists contest the tall claims.They say most initiatives die midway in the absence of proper supervision or monitoring while the rest is useful only after the crime is committed.
“Politicians keep on making promises like installing CCTV cameras across the city, deploying guards in public transports, etc., but hardly fulfil them. It is high time that we should do a reality check on their politically driven announcements. If more women-related crimes are being reported, it’s because women are not willing to tolerate indignity in the society ,” said activist Ranjana Kumari, director of centre for social research.
Sharing her experience, Shubra Mendiratta, advocate, Delhi Commission for Women, who counsels rape survivors, said genuine victims of sexual crimes are suffering because the number of fake cases is increasing.