A Look at Available Data Suggests That the Government's Initiatives to Combat Sexual Violence are Hollow

23 March 2016
Demonstrators shout slogans as they resist detention by police officials while attending a rally in New Delhi on 20 December 2015, held to protest the release of a juvenile rapist.
CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators shout slogans as they resist detention by police officials while attending a rally in New Delhi on 20 December 2015, held to protest the release of a juvenile rapist.
CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images

In the 2013 budget session, the then finance minister P Chidambaram announced the creation of the Nirbhaya fund. Set up in the aftermath of the horrific rape of Jyoti Singh in December 2012, the fund was created as a corpus under the Department of Economic Affairs (DoE) to finance initiatives concentrating on women’s safety. The appropriation bill—a motion that authorises the government to spend the money—was approved on 9 September 2013, six months after the fund was established. However, the initial fund was still not available for use as the Department of Expenditure only opened a public account in January 2014—almost a year after the announcement was made.

Since then, the fund has seen dismal performance under the current government. A 16 December 2014 report by the Standing Committee on Finance took the DoE to task for “parking of funds over the years pending formulation and approval of Schemes matching the allocation.” In the subsequent budgets of 2014 and 2015, allocations of Rs 1000 crore each were made but were never utilised.

Data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on 16 October 2015 show that the number of reported crimes against women in the country has more than doubled in the last decade. It is important to note that these figures do not accurately represent the state of affairs at the ground level but merely the nature of cases that are reported to the authorities. Crimes against women often go unreported for fear of the consequent social censure, harassment or even attempts to “burk” data. Nationwide and local data would seem to attest, however that the measures suggested to combat crimes against women are not only mismanaged, but plagued by apathy on behalf of the states and the police machinery at large.

According to the NCRB data, rapes against minors across India rose by a massive 61 percent from 2012 to 2014. The number of rape cases increased by around 66 percent from 2010 to 2014. Reports of kidnapping and abduction shot up by an incredible 92 percent for the same period. Other crimes such as dowry deaths (1 percent), assault with intention to outrage modesty (102 percent), cruelty by husbands or relatives (30 percent) have also seen a rise. In almost half a decade, crimes against women as defined by the Indian Penal Code have risen by an overall 53 percent.

In 2014, Uttar Pradesh accounted for 3,467 rape cases, or 9.5 percent of the total rape cases reported throughout India. Maharashtra and Rajasthan constituted 9.5 percent and 10.2 percent of the total rapes individually, while Madhya Pradesh recorded 5,076 rape incidences, or 13.81 percent.

Kaushal Shroff is a staff writer at The Caravan.

Keywords: crime Budget rape police
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