The many shades of rape cases in Delhi

A six-month long investigation by The Hindu has revealed that the nature of reported sexual assault in Delhi is far more complex than earlier imagined.

July 30, 2014 08:36 am | Updated 08:52 am IST - NEW DELHI:

A six-month long investigation by The Hindu has revealed that the nature of reported sexual assault in Delhi is far more complex than earlier imagined. Among the key findings is that a third of all the cases heard during one year dealt with consenting couples whose parents had accused the boy of rape.

Over the last six months, The Hindu analysed all cases involving sexual assault that came before Delhi’s six district courts in 2013 — nearly 600 of them in all. The Hindu also interviewed judges who hear rape cases, public prosecutors who argue them, police officers who work on the cases, complainants, accused and their families, and women’s rights activists and lawyers. What emerges is a complex picture of the nature of sexual assault in the capital, a city that has come to be known as India’s ‘rape capital’.

India’s only source of statistics on sexual assault is the National Crime Records Bureau. NCRB data come from police stations: First Information Reports filed in police stations across the country are collected at the State level and then put together at the national level. With respect to rape, NCRB data give the number of cases registered in all States (1,636 in Delhi in 2013, for instance) and in 53 major cities; the age-groups of the alleged victims and a rough categorisation of the alleged offenders’ nearness to the victim. The data is not able to say anything more about the nature of sexual assault.

The Hindu found that one-fifth of the cases were wound up because the complainant did not appear or turned hostile. Of the cases fully tried, over 40 per cent dealt with consensual sex, usually involving the elopement of a young couple and the girl’s parents subsequently charging the boy with rape. Another 25 per cent dealt with “breach of promise to marry”. Of the 162 remaining cases, men preying on young children in slums was most common.

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