Trigger Warning: Mention of GBV and child abuse
An alarming rise in crimes against women in India has been reported in the yearly report published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The data which was published earlier in December issued the yearly crime report together with the Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India (ADSI) report.
The statistics show a worrisome increase between 2021 and 2020, with a startling 4,45,256 instances reported in 2022 alone—nearly 51 FBI reports every hour. According to information from the NCRB’s annual crime report “Crime in India 2022,” the rate of crimes against women per lakh population was 66.4, while the charge filing in these instances was recorded at 75.8.
The magnitude of these crimes is unimaginable given the gaps in the data that show the unreported cases of crimes that make it even more alarming.
What does the report state?
Based on information gathered from 36 states, Union territories, and central agencies, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report pointed out the alarming hike in crime against women.
According to the data, there were 4,45,256 recorded incidents of crime against women in 2022, representing a 4 per cent rise from the 4,28,278 cases in the previous year. Appallingly, the biggest percentage of incidents (31.4 per cent) reported were abuse by spouses or their family members, which was followed by kidnapping and abduction (19.2 per cent), assault “with Intent to outrage modesty,” (18.7 per cent), and rape (7.1 per cent).
Looking at the regional data, Delhi emerged as the most concerning leader, having a crime rate of 144.4, more than the national average. With 65,743 FIRs, Uttar Pradesh claimed to have the most instances registered, ahead of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh. The study also stated that 1,212 rape incidents were reported in Delhi last year. “Compared to 64.5 in 2021, the crime rate per lakh women population was 66.4 in 2022.“
The report highlights how in 2022, there were 1,62,449 recorded incidents of crimes against minors, which is an 8.7 per cent increase (1,49,404 cases) over 2021. 43.7 per cent of these cases were filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, and the majority (45.7 per cent) involved kidnapping and abduction.
Crime reports against senior citizens also highlighted the disturbing reality that questions the safety of society. From 26,110 incidents in 2021 to 28,545 cases in 2023, there was a 9.3 per cent increase in crime against seniors. Stealing (3,944 or 13.8 per cent), forgery, deception, fraud (3,201 or 11.2 per cent), and injury (7,805 or 27.3 per cent) accounted for many of these incidents.
From 8,802 to 10,064 incidents, the number of crimes against ST rose by 14.3 per cent in the previous year where there was a 13.1 per cent rise in crime numbers against SC from 50,900 in 2021 to 57582 in 2022, showcasing the casteist evil mindsets of many in the society that is constantly changing.
There is no dip in the crimes reported, even though there was an 11.1 per cent increase in economic offences (1,74,013 instances). In 2022, there were 4,139 incidents of corruption reported, up from 3,745 cases in 2021—a 10.5 per cent rise. Cybercrimes increased from 52,974 in 2021 to 65,893 instances, a 24.4 per cent increase.
Crime against women
Violence against women has been escalating for several years, so this is not a recent development. India witnessed many heinous crimes that took place in the past years, shaking the country.
The horrendous case of gender-based violence; Aftab Poonawala against his partner grappled the entire country due to the cruel nature of the crime where Shraddha Walker, a 27-year-old woman was murdered.
Early on New Year’s Day in Delhi, a young woman named Anjali Singh tragically lost her life. She was dragged for kilometres beneath a car, and her death made women’s safety a public concern and provoked protests on careless driving and lack of responsibility.
On March 13, 2023, Bangalore authorities found a decaying female corpse in a blue drum at the main door of India’s first air-conditioned train terminal. Since December 2022, this was the third time a woman’s body was found at a Bengaluru railway station. The incidents that stirred fear among the people suspecting a serial killing never came to a satisfying conclusion. The police stated all these cases were not related, adding it to another heinous crime in the city records.
In Kerala, a young doctor Vandana Das was attacked and stabbed to death by a prisoner during her hospital duty hours. The postmortem revealed there were 26 injuries, severe and others showing the horror of the incident.
These are a smaller part of the larger extent of crimes that took place. Analysing it, there are a few probable reasons for this concerning pattern. Some claim that misogyny is on the rise worldwide, while others place the blame on cultural variables. It is critical to keep in mind that no one element can be held fully accountable for these acts, and responsibility cannot be allocated to one side of the debate alone. But action must be taken to stop this before more women fall prey to it.
This is not a new reality as the crimes against women have been increasing for a long time. UN data state that with effects on society at large, violence against women and children is an important issue for the community. Everyone is vulnerable to violence, but women and children are more vulnerable than men because they frequently lack the resources necessary for adequate protection or have fewer rights overall.
Why are the crimes going unreported?
One important aspect to note is that these are incidents that were officially reported to the police, and the state or UT police agencies subsequently forwarded the information to the NCRB. In India’s past, though, the police department has not always been the best place to look for justice or recovery. With the history of many custody deaths, and discrimination leading to innocent people getting accused to put an end to the cases, a part of the society lost trust in the system. Even for those from marginalised groups, police intimidation and custodial violence serve as a deterrent and can quickly turn into a fearful situation.
Moreover, police officials frequently deny missing women files because they consider the women to be at fault somehow and believe they may have eloped with a man for marriage or love. This is because of the patriarchal stigma that society imposes on women. While the nation grapples around the numbers it is important to address the uprooted evil system in it and investigate further and create a safer environment.
Delhi, the most unsafe capital in crimes involving juveniles
The capital of India marked the incidents of crimes involving minors as a scary department to talk about or even think about.
Compared to 2,618 in 2021 and 2,336 in 2020, minors were identified to be involved with 2,436 criminal acts registered in Delhi in 2022. Based on NCRB statistics, the figure is significantly higher than in India’s other 19 major cities.
NCRB reports have proven to be a useful resource for data on a wide range of crimes over the years, including financial and commercial crimes as well as crimes against women. But the actual rise in crimes and the crimes in data excluding unreported cases are completely different and equally frightening.
Even though the government frequently launches programs like Mahila Shakti Kendra, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Yojna, etc it has not been able to stop violence against women and children in India which is heart-wrenching with the rising cases of crimes practically every day.
It is disturbing to realise that these are all grim realities of the nation that we all live in. The agonising increase in the number of cybercrimes emphasises how urgently improved measures for cybersecurity and awareness among the public are needed.
Yes, though there are other methods to tackle issues as well, legislation is required and crucial, with the legal backing, that assists in altering public opinion for a future that reads a safer environment to the vulnerable sections in the society.