New Delhi: The capital of the country, Delhi has been often branded as the capital also for crime against women and if a study by teh National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is anything to go by, 2012 may well have been the worst for women in the capital.
This becomes particularly clear when you are faced with the figures from the study, that document a rise in rapes by strangers. The proportion of rapes committed by men who were strangers to the victim rose above 2% for the first time in five years to cross 10%, according to a report in the website of The Times of India.
Thus 63 of the 585 rapes in Delhi in 2012, or nearly 11%, were committed by strangers to the victim. The rise in rapes by strangers is particularly worrisome, when one considers that the overwhelming proportion of rapes are committed by persons known to the victims from before and when you add to this the fact that strangers are increasingly becoming rapists, the situation is not at all savioury.
Indeed the report found that 'stranger rape' of the type that occurred in Delhi on December 16 last year tends to form the basis for women's perceptions of public safety, but is relatively rare.
At the all-India level, less than 2% - 453 in all — of the nearly 25,000 rapes registered during the year 2012 were committed by strangers, the NCRB study reveals.
For instance in Madhya Pradesh, the state that consistently records the largest number of rapes, all of the 3,425 assaults were by persons known to the victim.
While data for Delhi have been stable over the previous years, large swings between years for a few other cities raise some doubts over the accuracy of NCRB data.
Bangalore is the most extreme example of this. The proportion of 'stranger rapes' in the southern city swung from 77% to 0% between two consecutive years, 2009 and 2010. Karnataka's crime statistics chief had earlier said that it was probably a problem with the numbers. "In Bangalore and Karnataka, as in the rest of the country, rape by strangers is a very small part of total rapes,' Praveen Sood, additional DGP, Karnataka State Crime Records Bureau, said. A spokesperson for the Delhi police said he could not comment without the exact numbers in front of him.
It's too soon to draw conclusions based on one year's data, agreed Kalpana Vishwanath of the Delhi-based women's rights organisation Jagori. "It's undoubtedly a fact that there is crime against women, but there also seems to be some slight increase in the last six months. There is greater family and community support to girls who want to speak out, and a little less of blaming the victim," Vishwanath said.
Victims of rape also tend to be younger in cities than in the rest of the India, more so in Delhi. In the cities for which NCRB provides data, just over half -the rape victims were aged 18 or less. The corresponding all-India figure was just 36.5%. In Delhi, 329 of the 585 victimes, or about 56.2% were aged 18 or less.
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