Of the 3,063 rape cases in Maharashtra in 2013, 3,057 were committed by those who were known to the victims. These figures from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) are disturbing, but do not tell the whole story. Policemen and legal experts worry that many more cases go unreported.
Mumbai police sources point to the rape of a photojournalist in Mumbai in August 213 to highlight this. They point out that after she showed the courage to report her rape, another survivor, a telephone operator, came forward to press charges. Police sources also claim that some of the accused had admitted to raping several other women, but no one else pressed charges.
“In most cases, the victim finds it difficult to face the court as the accused have a strong belief that they can get away with it,” said Dr Harish Shetty, a psychiatrist.
YP Singh, former IPS officer turned lawyer, says that most of the cases reported relate to promises of marriage not being kept, live-in relationships gone sour, minors eloping, or sex workers not being paid.
In the state’s case, of the 3,057 cases where the victim knew the accused, around 281 cases related to sexual abuse within the family. But, around 2,167 cases were classified as belonging to the “other” category, possibly cases like those YP Singh spoke of.
According to Dr Harish Shetty, in the absence of a functional system, making women aware and empowered is the best way out. “There is chaos in delivering justice,” he said, before adding, “If existing laws are properly implemented, then the crimes can be controlled.”