The 2018 Crime in India report was released by the NCRB recently. A total of 3.78 lakh crimes against women were reported in 2018 with crime rate touching an all-time high of 59 crimes per lakh women.
Within three months of releasing the 2017 report, National Crime Records Bureau released the ‘Crime in India (CII)’ report for 2018 along with three other reports- ‘Prison Statistics 2018’ and ‘Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India’, 2017 and 2018. The 2017 CII report was released after a long delay of 22 months.
In 2017, the report was modified to incorporate the evolving crimes. The 2018 edition of the crimes report has included notes stating that reporting mechanism for some offences in certain states/cities have been made easier because of which more cases may have been reported in these places. Thus, NCRB says statistical comparison is not feasible.
Section on ‘Word of Caution’ introduced in 2018 report
Unlike in the previous editions, the latest report has also included a ‘Word of Caution’ section in which the following disclaimers have been made:
- Criminogenic factors vary across regions and hence, viewing data without considering the fundamental aspects of crime will result in a hazy picture of the actual scenario.
- Crimes reported may have increased due to the increasing population as well as the improved mechanisms for reporting crimes.
Overall Crime rate has declined but rate of crimes against Women has increased
Installation of women help-desks in police stations to encourage more women to register complaints without any hesitation has also been highlighted in the 2018 report. The overall crime rate in 2018 dropped to 383 crimes per lakh population from 389 in 2017. However, the rate of crimes against women has witnessed an increase from 57.9 in 2017 to 58.8 per lakh women in 2018.
More than 3.78 lakh cases of crimes against women reported in 2018
Whether in the mother’s womb or in the world outside, the safety of women has always remained a topic of debate in the country. In 2018 alone, NCRB data reveals that more than 3.78 lakh cases of crimes against women have been registered in India. In other words, every hour, at least 43 crimes against women are reported across the country.
The number of cases reported of crimes against women is on the rise, as is evident from the chart. This increase is more prominent in the immediate aftermath (2012 & 2013) the Nirbhaya incident in Delhi. This increase in the number could be because of more women coming forward to report crimes and police, in turn, registering these cases. The increase in the actual number of crimes against women also cannot be ruled out.
Uttar Pradesh continues to report largest number of crimes against women
Uttar Pradesh continues to report the greatest number of registered crimes against women in 2018, constituting 15.7% of the total. This is understandable because of the higher population in UP.
Only Uttar Pradesh has reported more than 50,000 crimes against women in 2018. Maharashtra and West Bengal have reported more than 30,000 crimes each. The ten states displayed in the chart alone contribute to 74% of the number of cases reported in 2018.
Crime rate touches an all-time high
However, the scenario varies if the crime rate is taken into consideration. In the year 2018, 59 cases of crime were reported for every lakh women population. The crime rate has increased from around 42 in 2012 to 59 in 2018. The crime rate of 59 per lakh women in 2018 is the highest ever. It has to be noted that the female population has been estimated on the basis of 2011 census data.
Assam has the overtaken Delhi in Crime Rate
In terms of the crime rate, Assam has reported the highest – 166 crimes per one lakh women. This is 2.85 times the national average of 59. Delhi follows Assam with almost 150 crimes per one lakh women. While Assam and Delhi continue to consistently report more than 100 crimes per lakh women, Haryana has also reported a crime rate of more than 100 in 2018.
27.3% of crimes are under Section 498A- Cruelty by husband and his relatives
A closer look at the types of crime reveals that 27.3% of the crimes against women are related to ‘cruelty by husband and relatives’ covered under Section 498A, popularly known as domestic violence. Assault accounts for the next highest crime head following by Kidnapping. These two account for 42.7% of the crimes against women. Including rape cases, the four IPC crimes alone constitute 79% of the cases of crime against women.
SLL (Special & Local Laws) crimes amount to 15% of the total crimes. The most prominent are the cases registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. A total of 38,802 cases on offences against girls under the age of 18 years have been reported under this Act.
Gruesome cases of rape and murder of Dalit women, Nirbhaya case in Delhi, Disha gang-rape case in Telangana and Unnao rape case in Uttar Pradesh, continue to make headlines every year. After more than 7 years of the Nirbhaya incident, the convicts are set to be executed on 22 January 2020.
Compared to 2017, the number of rape cases has increased marginally by 2.4% in 2018. However, cases of murder with rape have increased by 31% in the same period.
An average of 91 cases of rape are reported every day, 15 from Madhya Pradesh
In 2018, a total of 33,356 cases of rapes and 294 cases of murder with rape were reported. This is an average of 91 rape cases every day and 15 of these cases were reported from Madhya Pradesh.
About 16% of the total rape cases were reported in Madhya Pradesh, 13% in Rajasthan, 12% in Uttar Pradesh and 6% each in Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. Of the 294 cases of rape & murder, 66 cases were reported in Assam, 46 in Madhya Pradesh and 41 in Uttar Pradesh. In 93.7% of the rape cases, the offender was known to the victim.
Rape Cases – 11% disposal & 27% Conviction in 2018
NCRB report also shows that in 2018, 1.56 Lakh rape cases were on trial. The trial was completed only in 17,313 cases with conviction only in 4,708 cases and acquittal in 11,133 cases. 1.38 Lakh cases remained pending by the end of 2018. In other words, only about 11% of the rape cases that were on trial in 2018 were disposed by courts.
Does NCRB data represent the true picture of Crime against Women?
Whether or not the numbers presented in the NCRB report represent the actual state of crime against women is debatable since the report is prepared on the basis of reported crimes. In the case of certain cognisable crimes such as murder which cannot be hidden, the numbers might represent the actual situation. However, in the case of offences against women, it should be kept in mind that not every woman reports crimes owing to social reasons. The comparison between states may not also be a proper marker since the reporting is better in some states compared to the rest. So, a pure number comparison may not be the best way to analyse the state-level trends.
Nevertheless, a significant number of offences against women are reported every year, be it in domestic set up or public set up despite various schemes rolled out for women safety. Only a mere 20% of the funds approved under the Nirbhaya fund have been utilised so far by the State & Central governments.
Strict law enforcement, quick action, and justice without delay are just some of the steps that need urgent attention. At the same time, a lot more needs to be done at the societal level to achieve gender equality. Even the latest Niti Ayog SDG index shows that India still has a long way to go to achieve gender equality.