The recently-released National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report notes a 902 per cent rise in cases of rape cases across India between 1971 and 2012.
While this staggering increase is indicative of more cases of rape — one of the mostly stigmatised categories of crimes against women — being reported and thus entering the system of criminal justice, there is no doubt that violence, especially sexual violence, is on the rise.
The case of the medical student at Manipal on Thursday night is the latest instance of crime to grab the headlines, even as many others go unnoticed either because of flawed procedures or because of social stigma.
The legislature committee report on women and child welfare, which submitted its report in the last Assembly session in Karnataka, said that as many as 2,157 cases of rape (IPC 376) were reported in the State between 2010 and 2012. Cases of sexual assault (IPC 353) for the same period were 8,931.
The panel, among other things, recommended that non-bailable warrants be issued against the accused in rape cases, with doctor’s report being the main evidence. It also said that the crime should be brought under the Goonda Act.
In the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape of the 23-year-old paramedical student, the three-member Justice J.S. Verma Committee made several recommendations for the safety of women, ranging from overhaul of existing laws to change in investigation methods, prosecution and trial. It noted that poor governance rather than bad legislation was responsible for women continuing to face violence.
One indication of the urgent need to streamline the system is the fact that the rate of conviction in rape cases, according to the NCRB report for 2012, is only 23.3 per cent.