New figures released by the National Crime Records Bureau show India's two largest cities accounted for one-third of the rape cases registered in 2010, and underline depressing infirmities in the prosecution of perpetrators — just over a quarter of them were convicted.
Last year, the national capital recorded 414 rape cases, the biggest number among 35 major cities monitored by the Bureau, followed by 194 in Mumbai. Delhi accounted for 23 per cent of all rape cases recorded in urban areas, while Mumbai made up 10.3 per cent.
In population-adjusted terms, however, several mid-size cities emerged as even more dangerous for women than the two big cities: in Jabalpur, 7.3 in every 1,00,000 people — both men and women — reported having been raped, followed by 5.5 in Bhopal, 5 in Faridabad, 4.8 in Visakhapatnam, and 4.2 in Indore.
The rape cases were just part of a larger mass of crime directed at women: Delhi alone recorded 1,422 cases of kidnap or abduction, a staggering 37.7 per cent of the total cases in the cities.
Delhi, however, was the most dangerous of the five megapolises, with 3.2 in every 1,00,000 population reporting having been raped in 2010, followed by 1.2 in Mumbai, 1.1 in Bangalore, 0.7 in Chennai and 0.2 in Kolkata — the last the lowest figure in any Indian city, along with Varanasi.
Even though the police filed charges against 94.5 per cent of the alleged rapists, just 26.6 per cent were eventually convicted — bearing out criticism that police investigators and public prosecutors lack the capacities needed to make the charges stick. Prosecutors did better in securing convictions in dowry-death cases, at 33.6 per cent, but in no category of crime did conviction rates exceed 39 per cent.
In Mumbai, there were 146 incidents of kidnapping of women, 21 dowry deaths and 312 incidents of cruelty by husband or his relatives during the last year. Pune reported the third highest figure of 91 rape cases in 2010, followed by Jabalpur (81) last year.
Software city Bangalore recorded 65 incidents of rape and Indore 69 last year. Among the States, Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number — 3,135 — in 2010 followed by West Bengal, where it was 2,311. Assam, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh reported 1,721, 1,599, 1,563 and 1,362 cases respectively. There were 1,012 incidents of rape in Chhattisgarh, 1,025 in Orissa and 795 in Bihar.
There were 112 dowry deaths and 1,273 incidents of cruelty by husband or relatives in Delhi last year, according to the NCRB report for 2010.
Experts at the NCRB told The Hindu that the data needed to be read with caution. For, the low figures in some areas could reflect the fact that women there face extreme social obstacles in reporting rape to authorities or hostility at the police station level.
“In my experience,” one senior officer said, “you will tend to have high reporting of rape where women's organisations are active and are able to push the authorities to register criminal complaints — not necessarily where the crime is most prevalent.”