The 2015 National Crime Records Bureau report is as grim as the earlier ones: Overall, crimes rose to 7.3 million, a 3.4% increase compared to 2014. The only comforting news is that the number of rapes has come down from 36,735 (2014) to 34,651 (2015), though the dip in numbers is too insignificant to crow about. “You cannot also cast aside from the fact that there were as many as 4,000 foiled rapes,” a senior police officer wrote in a website.
This large number of registered cases, foiled rapes and numerous cases of stalking --- there has been a 33% increase in stalking cases between 2014 and 2015 --- show that these are more than just a law and order problem; the discussion on violence against women has to start in every home, and it has to involve both boys and girls. On Monday, Hindustan Times started a special eight-part series --- Let’s Talk About Rape --- where eight eminent Indians will write open letters in the newspaper to discuss the reality of sexual assault in India. It is an effort to look at the issue of violence against women from different perspectives. But such efforts by media, citizens and NGOs need a strong support from the government.
But is not happening: In 2014, the Centre announced that it would launch Rape Crisis Centres in every district in India. But by 2015, that came down to 36 centres; to date only 18 have been built. But even these centres are not functioning to their full capacity because of lack of personnel, infrastructure and convergence among different departments. This is not all: There has been no utilisation of the Rs 2,000 crore fund that was set up in memory of the December 16, 2012, gang rape victim; in fact, there is no national plan as to how rape victims are to be compensated. As the Supreme Court reminded the government earlier this year, setting up of the fund is not enough and it is just paying “lip service”; It added: “The State must ensure adequate relief to the victims of sexual offences”. Do we say more?