[ M Doley ]
“When we hear about the incidents of rape, our heads hang in shame,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in his first Independence Day speech in 2014.
That was not the first time that the prime minister had talked about respect for women.
In his speech on the occasion of the 76th Independence Day last year, he made a passionate appeal to the citizens to take a pledge to not do anything that lowers the dignity of women.
He said that “a distortion has crept in societal conduct toward women.”
To ensure safety and security for women, the central government has enacted various laws, which include the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013; the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2006; the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961; the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018, etc. The schemes/projects include one-stop centres, women helpline, and emergency response support system, which is a pan-India single number (112) mobile app-based system for emergencies; setting up of fast-track special courts for speedy disposal of cases of rape and cases under the POCSO Act; setting up anti-human trafficking units in all districts of the country; setting up and strengthening women helpdesks at police stations, etc.
But the rate of crimes against women is not declining even after introduction of such laws.
In 2021, a total of 4,28,278 cases of crimes against women were registered in India, showing an increase of 15.3 percent over 2020 (3,71,503 cases), the National Crimes Records Bureau data shows.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the state police recorded or received a total of 704 FIRs/complaints of crimes against women during 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, and during the period from 1 January to 30 June, 2022.
As per the data available on the official website of the Arunachal Pradesh Police (APP), the state police recorded 205 cases of crimes against women in 2018. It recorded 156 cases of crimes against women in 2019, 70 in 2020, 196 in 2021 and 77 during the period from 1 January to 30 June, 2022. The data for the period from 1 July to 31 December, 2022 was not available on the website.
The total number of rape cases recorded during that period was 362.
A total of 74 rape cases were recorded in 2018, 79 in 2019, 69 in 2020, 196 in 2021 and 44 during the period from 1 January to 30 June, 2022. The data shows a consistent year-on-year increase, except in 2020, the year when Covid-19 lockdown forced the country to shut down for months.
A total of 26 cases under the POCSO Act have been recorded during that period, while a total of 111 molestation cases were recorded during the last two-and-a-half years.
The police recorded 81 cases of molestation in 2020, 24 in 2021, and six cases during the period from 1 January to 30 June, 2022.
These apart, four complaints of cruelty by husband were recorded during the period from 1 January to 30 June, 2022.
These are only the official data provided by the APP. It is a well-known fact that many incidents of crimes against women go unreported due to various reasons, like fear, ignorance, lack of awareness, lack of family support, lack of financial support, etc.
According to a report published in ‘LiveMint’, over 99 percent of cases of rape go unreported in India.
The UN recently expressed serious concern over the increasing incidents of crimes against women across the globe.
It stated that, on average, more than five women or girls were killed every hour by someone in their own family in 2021.
The low conviction rate can be attributed to increasing incidents of crimes against women. As fear of punishment prevents the offenders from breaking the laws, the culprits must be awarded punishment with great seriousness.
Setting up of special fast-track courts for hearing of cases related to violence against women is an urgent need. Further, special training should be provided to the police officers dealing with victims of rape and sexual abuse. The victims should also be provided with legal assistance by the police station, considering their distressed state of mind.
The need of the hour is to take steps with proper planning to protect women from gender violation. People from all sections of the society, who believe in justice, must come forward to strongly combat the crimes against women, which is a violation of human rights.