Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rise in rape cases across India - NCRB Records Reveal Shocking Trend Over Last 40 Years

Incidents of rape in the country have increased by a staggering 792% over the past nearly 40 years. This eight-fold increase is way ahead of other serious crime like murder, which increased by 106% robbery (27%) and kidnapping (298%). In fact the rise in rape stands out as the most steep compared to all cognizable crimes, which grew at 134% since 1971.
This shocking trend emerges from a comparison of the recently released crime data maintained by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) with data from earlier years. Although NCRB maintains crime statistics since 1953, rape statistics are being collected only since 1971.
Experts believe that while some of this jaw-dropping rise could be explained by increased reporting as awareness has grown among victims and families, the scale of increase undoubtedly reflects increasing violence against women in society. Maintaining a trend which has existed for several years, almost 97% of the rapes were committed by persons known to the victim with about 7% committed by family members and 35% by neighbours.
In a worrying trend disposal of cases by the police and the courts is worsening over the years. In 1972 (the first year for which disposal data is available), the police investigated and charge sheeted 71% of rape cases brought before it but in 2010 they could manage only 64% disposal. Shockingly, the courts were able to decide upon only 16% of rape cases in 2010 – half the rate forty years ago. Conviction rates have dipped from 41% in 1971 to a meager 27% in 2010.
Activists believe that the tide of growing rape cases was not being diligently handled by the investigating and the prosecuting agencies. This could in fact be contributing to increasing incidence as the deterrent effect was seen to be weak.
Several women’s organizations have been demanding changes in rape laws to widen its definition, have time bound trials and safeguards for victims, besides tightening up the investigation and prosecution processes.

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