Crimes against women down, dowry deaths up by 13%
Mass arrest drives last year resulted in the decrease in crimes against women by 9.55%, but dowry deaths rose by 13.48%jaipur Updated: Jul 14, 2016 21:03 IST
The number of dowry deaths in Rajasthan increased significantly last year, the highest since 2011, even as other crimes against women came down by nearly 10% for the first time in the state, according to crime branch data.
Police claimed that its mass arrest drives across the state resulted in the decrease in crimes against women by 9.55%, but the 13.48% rise in dowry deaths betrays a grim picture on their inaction.
“Police refuse to take action under section 498A (cruelty against woman by husband or relative of husband), which results in the women being forced to do compromise and go back to their husbands,” national secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Kavita Srivastava alleged.
She noted that the Supreme Court’s judgment in the 2014 case between Arnesh Kumar and state of Bihar, protecting the husband against automatic arrests under section 498A, has deterred police from taking action in dowry harassment cases.
The court had observed that this section is often used as a weapon by disgruntled wives against their husbands and said that arrests can be made only when the police and the magistrate is convinced of the necessity of it.
Srivastava said the inaction deteriorates the situation for women. “If the victims go to the police after being tortured again following the compromise, the officials don’t listen to the victims and allege that they are trying to lodge a false complaint.”
“According to a study conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), one out of every four women, sent back (to husband’s house after compromise), dies after being tormented by her in-laws and husband. The Rajasthan government should take cognisance of the sorry state of affairs when it comes to dowry death in the state,” she said.
What has brought some cheer to the women’s face is the decrease in number of reported crimes against women, which includes rapes, trafficking, kidnapping and eve teasing. Down by 9.55%, the figure is a first-time phenomenon in a state which has seen the graph rise every year.
“In totality, the cases of atrocities against women since 2013-2015 in Rajasthan have decreased but if cases of dowry deaths have increased it is a matter of concern. We would lay more focus and make efforts to curb it,” said Suman Sharma, chairperson, Rajasthan Women’s Commission.
Police officials, on their part, say that this decrease in crime rate has to be seen in the light of the statewide arrest drives launched last year.
“For the first time last year, the Rajasthan police launched arrest drives which were simultaneously implemented all over the state. In these drives, we arrested many people who were either absconding or were not arrested earlier,” said a senior police officer.
In one drive during March 1-15 last year, 1,125 people were arrested, of whom 1,035 had standing warrants issued in their names, eight were proclaimed offenders and 82 people had been reported absconding. A similar drive held between September 1 and November 15 resulted in the arrest of 5,012 people accused across the state.
“This year too, we will be conducting such drives across the state simultaneously. The fact that crime rate against women went down shows that arrest drives hold much relevance. Earlier, such drives were never conducted in a mass scale and used to be confined within one or two districts,” said the official.