Delhi’s record of crime against women is abysmal. The brutal gang rape of Nirbhaya in December 2012 in Delhi shocked the nation’s conscience. It led to widespread protests calling for improved safety for women on streets. Political parties did not miss this opportunity to make women’s safety a key part of their election campaign.
Four years later, how safe are the streets of Delhi for women? Almost every day papers carry stories of sexual violence which are forgotten after a spate of outrage on social media. Not all stories make it to the papers. Let us look at the staggering data on crime against women compiled by NCRB & Delhi police. (The latest NCRB report provides the data for 2015 for all states and union territories while Delhi police website provides Delhi specific data for 2016).
Although women may be victims of any crime such as murder, robbery, cheating, etc., only crimes which are directed specifically against women i.e. gender specific crimes are characterized as ‘Crimes against Women’.
As per the NCRB report of 2015, Delhi tops the list of states and union territories in crime against women with a rate of 184.3 per 100,000 women which is over three times the national average of 53.9. It is indeed the crime capital of India for crimes against women.
NCRB reports further breaks down the crime against women into different categories. We will examine three of these categories, namely Rape (376 IPC), Assault on women with an intent to outrage her modesty (354 IPC) and Insult to the modesty of women (509 IPC). The latter two are commonly clubbed together in India as “eve teasing”. Teasing is euphemism that makes it sound like a flirtatious courtship. Assault on women to outrage her modesty and insult to the modesty of women is no “teasing”. Let us call it what it is, i.e molestation and sexual harassment.
With 2199 cases of rape in 2015, Delhi records a rate of 23.7 per 100,000 women against an all India average of 5.7. To put this number in perspective, the rate is nearly double of that of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, the two other states which have a high rate of rape.
In 2016, the Delhi police reports 2155 rapes, which works out to a shocking number of 6 rapes a day. While only a few cases make national headlines, each number has a horrendous story behind it.
The number of rapes has shown a steady increase since 2012, stabilizing after 2014. The number of reported rape cases in 2016 is three times of that in 2012.
Age wise breakdown of the rapes is shocking with 42% of the victims being minors. In 81 cases, victims were under 6 year old and in another 146 case, they were between 6 to 12 years of age.
Soon after the Nirbhaya case, UPA government allocated Rs 1,000 crore to set up a fund to enhance the safety and security for women in the country. In the 2014-15 and 2015-16 budgets, a further amount of Rs 1,000 crore was allocated to the Nirbhaya fund each year. The fund remained unutilized in the first two years and even four years later, most of the schemes are still in the planning stage. When faced with criticism, the government issued a clarification stating amount allocated to different projects is approximately Rs.1530 Crores so far and the expenditure incurred is approximately Rs.400 Crores.
Assault on women to outrage her modesty
As per NCRB, Delhi recorded a total of 5367 cases of assault on women to outrage her modesty in 2015. This translates into a rate of 57.8 per 100,000 women which once again is not only the highest but is also more than four times the national average of 13.6. The next highest state is Odisha with a rate of 31.1 per 100,000 women. Assault on women to outrage her modesty under IPC section 354 includes sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism and assault with intent to disrobe.
Delhi Police data of 2016 shows a fall in the number of cases to 4165 which is still over 11 cases a day. Though 2016 data for other states is not available for comparison, the fall in number of cases is a positive development. It should however be noted that this is nearly six times the 727 cases reported in 2012. To some extent one can argue that women may now be more open to reporting molestation, year on year increases since then is indicative of deteriorating safety of women. 2017 data will be able to confirm if this trend has indeed been reversed.
Insult to the modesty of women
Insult to modesty of women under IPC section 509 includes insult to modesty as workplace as well as public transportation. Delhi recorded a total of 1492 cases in 2015. The rate per 100,000 women was 16.1 as compared to an all India average of 1.4. Andhra and Telengana are next highest but their rate of 8.6 and 7.1 is way below that of Delhi.
Delhi police data for 2016 shows a significant fall in the number of cases to 918. While the number of reported cases has gone up each year since 2012 figure, such a massive fall in 2016 is a positive development that points to improved policing.
Crime against women doesn’t stop at rape, molestation and sexual harassment. In 2015, Delhi recorded 4301 cases of kidnapping. The rate per 100,000 women was 46.3 as compared to a national average of 9.8.
The NCRB list of crime against women goes on to elaborate several others types of crimes like dowry deaths, cruelty by husband and relatives, crimes under immoral traffic prevention act, etc. Delhi leads when it comes to rape and crimes that are committed in a public space. The underlying issue remains the safety of women on the streets of Delhi.
Although there seems to be some improvement in crime against women in 2016, Delhi still has a long way to go before it can shrug off the unfortunate title of being the crime capital of India for crime against women. Delhi Police falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), central government and not the Delhi state government. The buck for law and order and women’s safety in Delhi, therefore stops with the BJP government at the Center. For now, “bahut hua naari par vaar.” remains yet another unfulfilled promise…