Molestation tops chart of crime against women in Chandigarh
Molestation has emerged as the most reported crime against women in Chandigarh this year. Of the 90 cases of sexual harassment against women registered since January this year, 50 were against molestation.
This is followed by 31 complaints against rape.
The same trend is also reflected in the data made available by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). In 2016, of the 169 cases of crime against women, 84 were of molestation. Similarly, in 2015, of the 190 cases, 102 were against molestation.
Experts opine that this may just be the tip of the iceberg as many cases still go unreported despite an increased awareness level among women which has resulted in relatively more cases of crimes being reported.
The recent public outcry over the stalking and kidnapping attempt against 29-year-old Varnika Kundu, a disc jockey, by Vikas Bararla, son of Haryana BJP president Subhash Barala, and his friend Ashish Kumar, had brought the issue of harassment faced by women in the city to the fore.
Besides this, on August 10, police had arrested Sunil, a Mohali resident, for trying to sexually exploit the 13-year-old daughter of his friend. The victim’s sister had informed her teacher, who in turn alerted the authorities.
On July 24, a vegetable vendor had protested against the harassment being faced by his school-going daughters. He was hospitalised after the accused attacked him with swords and even tried to burn down his house in Bapu Dham Colony, Sector 26, Chandigarh.
Chandigarh second among UTs in crime against women
The data made available by the NCRB for cases registered in 2016 places Chandigarh at the second place among the seven union territories in terms of crimes against women. With 17,104 cases, Delhi was the most unsafe for women, followed by Chandigarh with 463 cases in 2015.
The NCRB data reveals that in 2015, a total of 463 cases of crime against women were registered in Chandigarh. Furthermore, of the 78 rape cases, an immediate family member was an accused in 11 of them. Besides, 24 women were raped on pretext of marriage. Neighbours were accused in four cases and 33 women were raped by unknown people.
Conviction remain low despite increased awareness
Another concerning factor is that despite increased awareness, which authorities say is reflected in the increased reporting of cases, the conviction rate has failed to accelerate. The conviction rate for crimes against women flounders at a meagre 49%. Legal experts reason that this is largely because the witness turns hostile under societal pressure. Besides this, the lackadaisical attitude of the law enforcing agencies is also an important factor, they say.
A senior officer of the Chandigarh Police, on condition on anonymity, said, “The increased number of cases being reported shows the rising intolerance to crime against women. It is a positive sign. The conviction rate will definitely improve in the future.” He added that the amended laws on crime against women have “redefined” the offences “leaving no place for vagueness or ambiguity”.
Veena Sharma, director of Human Rights Law Network, says societal pressure is a major factor responsible for many sexual harassment cases being unreported. “Non conviction does not imply that the case was false. Lack of sustained support to the victim and the social stigma is what often force them to backtrack,” he said.
Meanwhile, advocate Gagan Aggarwal says, “In cases of sexual harassment, the onus of proving the allegations is on the complainant. This is one of the major drawbacks of our legal system. In most cases, cross-examination of the victim is conducted in such a way that contradictions emerge in her statements, thus weakening the case.”