National Crime Records Bureau statistics show growing violence against women, dalits
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the city of Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh was the second most unsafe city for women in India, after Delhi, in 2007-2008. And, crimes against dalits rose by 5% in Uttar Pradesh despite the state having a dalit chief minister
Gender violence is on the rise in Andhra Pradesh. According to the latest statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Andhra Pradesh had the worst record for crimes against women in 2007-08.
The NCRB recorded 24,738 cases of crimes against women, including 1,070 cases of rape, 1,564 cases of kidnapping and abduction, 613 cases of dowry death, and 11,335 cases of domestic violence in Andhra Pradesh. The city of Hyderabad, where 1,931 cases of crimes against women were committed, clocked in as the second most unsafe city in India after Delhi, with 4,331 cases.
What made the situation more difficult in Andhra Pradesh was the fact that the Andhra Pradesh Women's Commission (APWC) has been without a chairperson since she was caught on camera, in September 2007, allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 50,000 to help a woman victim.
Uttar Pradesh also witnessed an increase in crimes against women, with the state recording 21,215 cases of violence, including 2,066 cases of dowry death, 1,532 cases of rape, and 3,819 cases of kidnapping.
The NCRB, which functions under the Ministry of Home Affairs, has highlighted how in many of the rape cases, including the rape of minor girls, the accused have been police personnel. The most poignant case of police rape involved 25-year-old Sarita, a resident of Saini Anandpura, Rohtak district, who committed suicide outside the office of Additional Director General of Police V B Singh after consuming poison on June 9, 2008.
Sarita's suicide note claimed that although she had been raped by two police personnel, in April 2008, the police had refused to file an FIR and had instead picked up her husband, on April 9, on charges of theft. She succeeded in filing charges only when Director General of Police Ranjiv Dalal held an 'open durbar' in Panchkula on June 5, 2008.
On September 13, 2008, a minor girl was allegedly raped by a member of the Central Industrial Security Force, at Manesar in Haryana; on October 10, 2008, a 10-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped by three men including a police constable identified as Anil Kumar, at Surbura village, Jind district.
Though a small state, Haryana recorded 4,645 instances of crime with as many as 269 cases of dowry death and 488 cases of rape. Instances of physical violence against women -- including the case of a widow who was stripped and paraded naked in Dhanbad district on April 3, 2008, for daring to enter a temple, and 60-year-old Badami Devi who was beaten up and forced to eat human excreta because villagers suspected her of practising witchcraft, on June 14, 2008 -- are also on the rise.
Bihar leads in cases of domestic violence, with 59% of married women suffering domestic violence. The NCRB recorded 7,548 cases of crime, with 1,555 rape cases, 1,172 dowry death cases, and 1,260 kidnapping and abduction cases. Madhya Pradesh leads in crimes against tribals, with 27% of all cases emanating from this state. Karnataka recorded 6,569 cases of crimes against women, while Chhattisgarh had 3,775 cases. Delhi recorded 453 rape cases in 2008 as against 581 cases in 2007. In Delhi too, in some cases, men in khaki were the perpetuators: there is the case of a 12-year-old girl waiting outside a temple who was pulled into a moving car and allegedly raped by a traffic constable in Swaroop Nagar, on April 24, 2008.
The northeast states recorded much less crime. Arunachal Pradesh registered 115 cases, Assam 31 cases, and Manipur 188 cases.
Meanwhile, NCRB statistics also show that crimes against dalits in Uttar Pradesh are increasing despite the state having a dalit chief minister. The figures reveal that such crimes rose by 5% in 2008. A total of 6,942 cases of murder, rape and other crimes was reported in 2008, in Uttar Pradesh, as against 6,628 cases in 2007. Dalits comprise 21% of the state's total population. Investigations by the state human rights commission show that a large number of these crimes are triggered by land disputes.
These are just some of the human right abuses mentioned by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in its 'Indian Human Rights Report 2009'.
The situation in neighbouring Bihar is no better. Despite Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's best efforts, the crime graph against dalits is showing an upward trend. In 2008, 2,786 cases were registered as against 1,572 in 2005.
A total of 2,766 cases of atrocities are pending in various courts in Bihar. Vishwanath Rishi, chairman of the Mahadalit Commission, Bihar, believes that the police should not register cases under criminal offences against dalits but under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. "This will allow victims to receive compensation while the accused receive harsher punishment," he said.
It's the same story in Delhi and Haryana too. Although the Delhi state government runs several schemes for the welfare of dalits and ST/OBC/minorities, almost 50% of funds allocated for their welfare remains unused.
Haryana, with a 19.5% dalit population, recorded 227 cases of violence against dalits. The report highlights the fact that low levels of documented crime in Haryana do not reflect the reality on the ground.
In 2007, Andhra Pradesh had the dubious distinction of being ranked fourth worst with respect to atrocities against dalits. According to the NCRB, 3,383 cases were reported in this state of which 46 were cases of murder and 105 were rape cases.
In Rajasthan the NCRB recorded a shocking 4,174 cases in 2007; in Karnataka, the figure was 1,844 incidents in 2007; in Maharashtra, 1,166 cases were reported in 2007.
The situation in Orissa, where dalits comprise nearly 17% of the population, is equally dismal. And few states enjoy such a dubious track record as Tamil Nadu, with 1,743 cases registered in 2007. The report quotes findings from a survey done in 2008 by the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front which highlighted how dalits face discrimination at all levels -- from being refused permission to collect water at the village tap to not being allowed to draw rations from ration shops. This discrimination extended to 20 districts in the state.
The plight of dalit women is much worse. Not only do they face physical violence, they also have limited access to livelihood, food, water, sanitation and other welfare programmes. Suhas Chakma, director of ACHR, says: "Now that the Manmohan Singh government has appointed several dalit ministers, they need to act in unison to ensure that the situation on the ground improves for these vulnerable and marginalised sections of the population."
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