Abstract: The article examines violence against women in India, under various heads such as rape, kidnapping and abduction, dowry death, torture, molestation, sexual harassment, importation of girls, sati prevention act, immoral traffic act, indecent representation of women(p) act and dowry prohibition act, etc. The crime head-wise incidence of reported crimes during 1996 to 1998 along with percentage variation is provided. It is observed that crimes against women in the year 1998 reported an increase of 8.3% and 4.8% over previous years 1997 and 1996. In absolute numbers an increase of 10.073 cases was reported at All India level in 1998 over 1997. The article provides guidelines as to how violence against women can be prevented.
Keywords: crimes against women, sexual violence, rape, kidnapping, indecent representation of women, sexual harassment, Sati prevention, Dowry Prohibition Act, percentage of reported cases
World history started with violence against women. World literature starts with adikavya, Ramayana, in which the kidnapping and confinement of Sitadevi for ten years is the main theme. In the Mahabharata, the attempted disrobing of Panchali, the kulavadhu and her pledge resulting in the fatricidal war take the center stage. Ancient Greek Literature starts with Iliad, in which the main story is Helen’s abduction. Eighteen cantos are devoted to the description of a fight between Ulysses and Agamemnon over the possession of the captured beauty Bressica. The Bible has stories of the ill treatment of Hagar, Patriarch Abraham’s concubine, forced possession of Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, the Hittite by King David, and the human sacrifice of Jephtad’s daughter. Gold and women happen to be the prime source of violence and war in the world as Kumaran Asan, the Malayalam poet surmised.
Violence against Women
In India In India, the violence against women is on astronomical increase. The statistics of violence against women in India is as given below. The data is taken from the National Crime Record Bureau Report of 1998.
Incidence of Crime against Women – All India (1996-1998)
The Crime head-wise incidence of reported crimes during 1996 to 1998 along with percentage variation is presented below. It is observed that Crimes Against Women in 1998 reported an increase of 8.3 per cent and 4.8 per cent over previous years 1997 and 1996 respectively. In absolute numbers, an increase of 10,073 cases was reported at All-India level in 1998 over 1997.
The available data indicates an increasing trend during the last three years in all the IPC crimes against women except Rape, Sati (prevention) A ct and Importation of Girls which reported a declining trend during this period. All crime against women reported under Special & Local Laws also indicated increasing trends during the last three years except Indecent Representation of Women (P) Act which reported a declining trend.
Crime Rate (States & Union Territories)
All India Crime rate i.e. number of crimes per lakh population for crimes against women reported to the police worked out to be 13.5 during 1998. However, when estimated with reference to female population this rate almost doubles to 28.1 per lakh female population, This rate of crime which does not appear alarming at first sight may be viewed with caution, as a sizable number of crimes against women go unreported due to social stigma attached to them.
Uttar Pradesh reported highest incidence (13.3%) of these crimes followed by Madhya Pradesh (12.2%) and Maharashtra (10.90/o). In contrast, Delhi, which accounted for only 1.9 percent of the total crimes and shared only 1.3% of the population in the country, reported third highest rate of such crime at 19.6 after Madhya Pradesh (20.5)
Incidence of rape cases (15,031) reported a decline of 2% during 1998 over 1997. Madhya Pradesh alone reported 22.3 per cent of the total rape cases in the country. The Union Territory of Delhi, which represented only 2.9 percent cases, reported fourth highest rate at 3.4 after Mizoram (9.3), Madhya Pradesh (4.3) and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (3.9).
At the national level there were 15,033 rape victims compared to 15,336 in the previous year representing a decrease of nearly 2 percent. Of these 8,414 (56%) were in the age group of 16-30 years 3,433 (22.8%) in the age group of 10-16 years and 626(4.2%) of age ten years & below. Similar to decrease (2%) in the number of rape victims over previous year, the child victims (below ten years) of age also reported decrease of 18.7% and the victims above thirty years of age reported an increase of 100.8 percent, signifying decrease of incidents relating to rape of children.
During the year 1998 only four cases of custodial rape (one each from Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh) were reported in the country.
Kidnapping and Abduction
Incidence of these cases reported an increase of 4.9 percent in 1998 over 1997. The states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan each reported more than 15 percent of these cases at national level while Delhi with a share of 6% cases reported highest rate at 7.5.
Incidence of dowry death cases reported an increase of 15.2 percent over the previous year. 32.2 percent of these cases at national level were reported by Uttar Pradesh alone, followed by Bihar (15%).
Torture (Cruelty by Husband and Relatives)
Incidence of torture cases in the country increased by 12.9 percent in 1998 over the previous year. 18.7 percent of these were reported by Maharashtra while the highest rate in the country at 9.5 reported from Rajasthan compared to 4.3 national average rates.
Incidence of molestation cases in the country reported an increase of 0.9 percent over the previous year. Nearly 23.5 percent of the total of such cases were reported from Madhya Pradesh, which also reported significantly higher rate (9.4) than National Average rate (3.2)
Sexual Harassment (Eve-Teasing)
The number of Sexual Harassment cases reported in the country significantly rose by 40.1 percent over the previous year. More than half (59.7%) of these cases were reported from the State of Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir reported the highest rate at 3.8 compared to 0.8 which is the national average rate.
Importation of Girls
A total of 146 such cases were registered in 1998 compared to 78 cases in the previous year reporting a sharp increase of 87.2 percent over 1997. Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana reported 57, 26 and 25 cases respectively.
Crime Trends – (Special Laws) Sati Prevention Act
The practice of sati is on the wane in modern times. Still sporadically, cases under this Act are reported. No such case from any State/Union Territory was reported in the country during 1998.
Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act
Cases under this Act registered an increase of 4.5 percent during 1998 as compared to 1997. More than half (68.3%) the cases were reported from the State of Tamil Nadu only. This should be construed as an indicator of improved policing efforts by Tamil Nadu Police in this area.
Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (Torture)
A remarkable increase of 163.0 percent was noticed for cases under this Act as compared to cases reported in the previous year (1997). Nearly 45 percent of these cases were collectively reported from Andhra Pradesh and Bihar States put together.
Dowry Prohibition Act Cases
These cases reported an increase of 29.9 percent in 1998 as compared to 1997. Of these, a sizable proportion (42.6%) was reported from Bihar state.
Disposal of Crimes Against Women Cases
The collection of detailed information on disposal of all the identified crimes committed against women commenced from the year 1995. The comparative national level status of disposal of these cases by police and courts is presented in the succeeding paragraphs. However State/Union Territory wise details are presented in the main chapter on disposal of crime cases.
Disposal by Police
During 1998 at the national level, the disposal of IPC cases by police accounted for 76.5 percent (including 0.4% cases where investigation was refused). The crime-head-wise analysis of crimes against women cases revealed a fairly high disposal percentage for sexual harassment cases (92.2%) molestation (85. 1%), and cruelty by husband &relatives cases (79.3%). On the other hand, while at national level 87.5 Percent cases reported under SLL were disposed of by police (including 0.6% where investigation was refused), the quantum of cases disposed under Dowry Prohibition Act was comparatively low at 75.4 percent.
The position of cases charge-sheeted to total cases for investigation was quite satisfactory for all the crimes committed against women when compared to national average of 55.2% for total IPC crimes. Only in case of kidnapping and abduction of women and girls the percentage was lower (35.9%) than the national average.
The percentage of charge-sheeted cases under SLL at national level stood at 84.4. Comparatively, the charge-sheet percentage in cases of Dowry Prohibition Act and Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act was lower than the national average, being 62.4% and 62. 1% respectively.
Disposal by Courts
The crime head-wise comparative details of cases of disposal of crime against women (IIPC&SLL) by courts during the last two years (1997 & 1998) are presented in the following table.
As compared to 76.5 percent disposal by police in case of IPC crimes at national level and 87.5 percent in case of SLL crimes, the disposal of these cases by courts was reported to be very low at 19.0 percent and 52.1 percent respectively.
The disposal by courts of heinous crime cases such as rape and kidnapping and abduction of women and girls was reported to be nearly 17 percent and 15.3 percent respectively during 1998. At the end of the year, 48,685 rape cases, 39,103 kidnapping and abduction’ cases, 18,523 dowry death cases and 1,07,192 torture cases were pending for trial in different courts of the country. Amongst SLL cases 42.9 percent cases under immoral Traffic (P) Act’ remained pending for trial while pending percentage was as high as 80.5 per cent and 86.1 percent for cases registered under Dowry Prohibition Act and Indecent Representation of Women (P) Act respectively. The only case for trial under Sati Prevention Act during 1998, has resulted in acquittal. No case remained pending for trial at the end of the year.
Atrocities against Women in Kerala
In Kerala, the most literate State of India, the atrocities against women have increased five fold in five years. The statistics is given below.
|This multiplying effect is shocking for a state like Kerala.
Statistics is Only the Tip of the Iceberg
Even these figures are only the tip of the iceberg. Only one out of five rapes are reported to the Police. Hence the actual figure of rape is five times the figure. Wife battering is the most occurring, but the least reported crime. Not even 1% is reported to the police. Eve teasing is another least reported crime. 99% of women ignore the incident. In 1999 only 53 cases are reported throughout the State, but in Thiruvananthapuram city alone, a minimum of 150 cases must be occurring. Hence statistics of violence against women conceals more than it reveals.
How to Prevent Violence against Women
It is not easy to control a social crime, which had been happening from time immemorial. But the following things may be attempted.
1. Better social awareness of the problem
2. Gender sensitisation of implementing agencies like the Police
3. A vigilant women folk which can create more Visakas who fight for their cause
4. A strong Women’s Commission.
5. Explicit action by social welfare board, Women’s development corporation etc.
6. Activating the Panchayat level JagrathaSamithi, and district level samithies.
7. Teaching girls about their rights from childhood
8. Teaching women the techniques of defending themselves like the Japanese teaching their women Judo.
9. Giving women victim’s legal assistance and free legal aid to fight their cases.
10. Co-coordinating the activities of women’s organisations and women N.G.Os
11. Suitable women helping legislations.
The possibilities are many and schedule of efforts many fold. It is a long-long effort. As Bertrand Russell says “Road I hope is too long, but that is no reason to lose ultimate hope”.
ALEXANDER JACOB. Inspector General of police(Training) and Ex-officio Joint Director, Kerala Police Academy, Thrissur. Had been working as lecturer at the Mar Ivanios College, Thiruvananthapuram till he was selected to the Indian Police Service in 1982. His Ph.D thesis was on the topic “Historical Novels of Indo-Anglian Literature.” He was the Director of Kerala State Women’s Commission before taking over his assignment as Secretary, Institute of Management in Government in January, 1999. Is the recipient of many awards for outstanding performance in public life. Was awarded the Presidents Scouts Award in 1972.