The best-suited line of caution for women in Uttar Pradesh would be: Beware of the near and dear, most sexual offenders known to victimsones!
The latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), says in about 99.5% of rapes reported in the state, close relatives and acquaintances were the prime accused. Out of the 1,963 cases of rape, 1,953 cases involved familiar ones as the accused.
Ironically, there is growing involvement of immediate family members, including parents, in the crime that has seen an upward trend in the past few years. Out of the total rapes in the state last year, in at least 12 parents were accused of the crime.
Commenting on the trend, women’s rights activist and former vice chancellor, Lucknow university, RR Verma said, “It is not that the girls were safe within their families and with their relatives before. It is just that people have become more outspoken now.” Involvement of fathers in sexual exploitation of daughters was astonishing and beyond belief initially, said Verma. But the number of such cases had increased with time and was a matter of great concern, she said.
Another major trend that has been highlighted by the figures is the threat from neighbours that has increased tremendously. About 29% of such incidents involved neighbours in 2012. The percentage share of neighbours in the crime last year was 22.13%. “There is mistrust only where there is trust. And neighbours are people with whom proximity increases with time and women often become victims of the ill-intentions of a man in the neighbourhood who happened to be a fatherly or brotherly figure at some point of time,” said L Chandra, an academician.
So, the issue of women’s safety becomes intense even in close proximity and no wonder they are scared. They do not know whom to rely on. “Times have become really strange. It seems relationships have no value. The morals and ethics of people are diminishing fast,” said a research student, recommending some mental healing exercises for one and all. Nationally, 24,923 rape cases were registered last year, and in 24,470 cases, the accused were either relatives or acquaintances of the victims.
Another startling fact that has been highlighted in the NCRB data is that all girls are vulnerable to violence and abuse.
The victimisation of minors, particularly girls below ten years, has witnessed a steep rise in the last couple of years. Out of the 1,953 cases of rape in UP, 182 victims were below ten years of age. The numbers were 150 in 2011 and 43 in 2010. The 18-30 years age group, hitherto most vulnerable to sexual crimes, witnessed a downfall in the past years, with that of the lower age group going up.
For the first time, women above fifty years have also been highlighted as victims of rape. “The facts are a replica of what is happening in society. We witness everyday how older women are prone to sexual assault. Be it lewd remarks on roadside or groping,” every women faces it, irrespective of the age,” said Madhu Garg, a women’s rights activist.