The decade between 2002 and 2011 has seen crimes against women rise from 1.31 lakh to 2.19 lakh registered cases, a jump of 67 per cent in absolute terms, and one of 42 per cent when adjusted for population with Census 2001 and 2011 as base.
Head by head under which crimes against women are listed, records compiled annually show an increase in rape, molestation, cruelty by husbands and relatives, and kidnapping and abduction. Sexual harassment is the only exception to the crime-by-crime trend, dropping successively since 2008. Year by year, certain crimes have dropped from one year to the next, particularly 2002-03 and 2008-09, but these too have been exceptions to the general trend thrown up by a comparison of the “Crime in India” reports released every year by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Crimes against women “have continuously increased”, says the latest edition.
Rape, the crime currently at the centre of public protests, has risen over 47 per cent in absolute terms over the decade, and over 25 per cent when adjusted for population. Molestation cases have increased 26.59 per cent (population-adjusted to 7.58) and kidnapping/abduction cases have more than doubled, with or without an adjustment. Even cases of cruelty by a woman’s husband and relatives have jumped, despite claims about various social indicators suggesting an improved mindset.
Statewise, crimes against women are high in Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat. In 2011, the highest number of rape cases was registered in Madhya Pradesh, its 3,406 cases accounting for 14.1 per cent of the national total.
West Bengal, which has 7.55 per cent of the country’s population and is ruled by a woman chief minister, registered 12.7 per cent of 2011’s crimes against women. Andhra Pradesh, with 7 per cent of population, accounted for 12.4 per cent of the national total.
Crimes against women are registered under IPC sections 376 (rape), 363-373 (kidnapping and abduction for specified purposes), 302 and 304-B (homicide for dowry, dowry deaths and attempts), 498-A (torture), 354 (molestation), 509 (sexual harassment) and 366-B (importation of girls up to