The epidemic of sexual violence persists
In the past week, three heinous crimes against women were reported in different parts of the country. In Sakinaka, Mumbai, a woman was raped and brutalised in a parked tempo. In Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, an athlete was found dead with grave injuries and suspected rape. In Bemetara, Chhattisgarh, a woman was gang raped and murdered. These horrific, unrelated crimes point to a common denominator: India remains unsafe for women. The Delhi gang rape of 2012, which led to stricter laws, is now a distant memory, as horrific cases of sexual violence continue to shock the country.
The latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) paints a frightful picture of a steady rise in rape cases. India recorded 32,033 rape cases in 2019. This implies that at least 88 women were raped every day. In 2019, 400,000 cases of crimes against women were reported, up from about 378,000 in 2018. These account for only 10% of the crimes against women. The conviction rate for rape cases is a dismal 30%.
The 2012 gang rape led to greater awareness and possibly better reporting of crimes, which may partly explain the rise in numbers. But both the numbers and recent incidents also show that this ugly reality persists. Law enforcement must swiftly bring the perpetrators to book; state governments must ascertain areas of high crime rates and double safety protocols in those areas; and men and young boys must be brought into the conversation to dismantle patriarchy and power structures that destroy the lives of women. 2012 brought a drastic change in the way the State and society began viewing the epidemic of sexual violence; nine years later, India still has a long way to go.