By Aditi Malhotra and Saptarishi Dutta
Delhi has long been considered one of the most unsafe big cities for women in India. And north India is often referred to as more violent, more patriarchal, and more crime-ridden than the south.
To add some perspective to this debate, here is a look at statistics on reported rapes around the country.
These data carry the caveat that there may be higher reporting rates in different areas and reporting is not necessarily indicative of the prevalence of the crime. Victims may be reluctant to report rape because of fears their case will not be taken seriously and police may be reluctant to register complaints.
In 2011, a total of 24,206 rape cases were registered in India, according to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau.
Of those, 6,227 were reported in northern India, which we defined as nine northern states: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttarakhand, as well as the regions of Delhi and Chandigarh.
The reported number in the south – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry – was 3,894 cases.
There were 1.02 rapes reported per 100,000 in 2011 in Uttar Pradesh, which has a population of 199.6 million. In Andhra Pradesh, the equivalent figure was 1.70 per 100,000; its population is 84.7 million.
The north and south together account for 10,121 cases, approximately 40% of the 2011 reported rapes.
The eastern, north-eastern, western and central states account for the remainder.
In the northeast – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura – 2,246 cases were reported in 2011.
In eastern India — Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal – there were 4,409 rapes reported, more than in all of southern India.
The central and western states of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Goa (as well as the regions of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu) accounted for 7,417 cases.
According to the NCRB, in 2011, Murshidabad, a district in West Bengal, recorded the highest number of reported rapes for a single district (433 cases) and of molestation cases (621.)
Chhattisgarh’s Durg Bhilainagar reported the highest rate of reported rape per 100,000 residents, at 5.7, more than double Delhi’s ratio of 2.8 per 100,000.
Some experts say northern India is perhaps worse than elsewhere in that women may have a harder time in registering complaints effectively.
Vrinda Grover, a lawyer in the Supreme Court, says that in northern India “women are not comfortable going up to the police and filing a complaint or, in a similar situation, the police don’t lodge a complaint.”
That has been borne out by the recent news of an 18-year-old girl in the northern state of Punjab, who complained to police in November that she was gang raped by three men but committed suicide last week because of alleged police inaction.
According to a report in Outlook Magazine, the police registered her complaint 14 days after the incident took place and asked uncomfortable questions every time she went to follow-up on her complaint.
One police official in the woman’s village of Badshahpur has been disciplined, said Patiala’s Superintendent of Crime Jaipal Singh on Wednesday without divulging further details.
Since the gang-rape and death of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi last month, further incidents of rape have been reported prominently in India’s newspapers.
The Times of India reported two in Wednesday’s edition, both in Uttar Pradesh. The Asian Age reported an attempt by five men in Delhi to kidnap and rape a 24-year-old woman.
However, activists play down the notion that one area of the country is inherently safer for women than others.
“I’m afraid we do not have enlightened zones anywhere in the country,” said Ms. Grover.
Ruth Manorama, president of the National Alliance for Women, added: “It is not a north India phenomena, it is an all India phenomena.”
– Preetika Rana contributed to this post.
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Courtesy : www.wsj.com