Of the total 917 women who went missing in Mumbai in the first two months of 2017, as many as 590, almost 65%, were in the age group of 16-25, showed a Right to Information (RTI) query filed by Hindustan Times.
The data on missing women was divided into the five age groups: 0 to 10, 11 to 15, 16 to 25, 26 to 40 and 40 and above.
The police reunited 63%, or 583, of the total missing women with their families while the percentage for the 16-25 age group was also the same.
None of the traced women were found dead.
The statistics for previous year also revealed the same picture on missing and rescued women.
In 2016, as many as 5,790 women were missing, of them, 3,797, or 66%, were traced. In the 16-25 age group, 3,510 women disappeared, of them 1,163 (33%) could not be traced. Three women in the same age bracket were found dead.
But the 2016 and 2017 data paled compared to that of 2010-15 period viz-a-viz Mumbai police’s performance in tracing missing women. Almost 96% of the missing women in the 16-25 age bracket were rescued in the city in between 2010 and 2015. In the actual terms, 19,780 women disappeared and 18,982 were reunited with their families.
Between 2010 and 2014, 20 missing women were found dead while in 2015 the number stood at four.
“Barely two per cent of these cases account for forcible kidnapping. It is so because missing cases involving minors are registered as kidnapping in compliance with the SC guidelines,” said Vasant Dhoble, retired assistant commissioner of police, who worked with Mumbai police’s missing persons bureau.
“Most of these women leave home because of either family discord, relationships or employment opportunities. Many return home after realising their mistakes,” added Dhoble, who also runs missingpeopleinfo.com to trace missing people.
‘Most women flee home over affairs, tiffs’
A majority of women in the 16-25 age group leave their home because of affairs or domestic tiffs, said police officials and experts.
“A major reason is fights at home with parents. The age is such that these youth are impulsive and are prone to rash decisions,” said a DCP-rank official.
“Women aged between 16 and 20 are impressionable and lured by their boyfriends under the pretext of marriage. Then there are the ones who aspire to lead an independent life and flee their orthodox homes. There are only a few cases where women are forcibly kidnapped,” said the official.
Based on his experience of over two decades of policing, Dattatray Bargude, assistant commissioner of police (Santacruz), said, “Affairs or marriages against parents’ will are common for young women. However, they do not know the consequences of their decision and how it will affect their future.”
A social worker stressed that the runaway cases can’t be delinked from human trafficking.
Social worker Mangala Honawar, programme manager of Tata Trusts, said, “While there is a potential link to human trafficking, the missing numbers are in line with the typical statistics.”
Honawar added that the missing women may also include mentally challenged and street people. And at times, women flee homes, fearing honour violence for choosing their partners, said the social worker.