New Delhi: Led by Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, the incidence of rape registered a sharp increase in India in 2016—part of a general spike in crimes against women, according to annual figures released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on Thursday.
Rape cases shot up in 2016 by 12.4% as opposed to a 5.6% decline between 2014 and 2015, which experts said was on account of under-reporting.
Other crimes against women, including cruelty by the husband, assault, kidnapping and abduction, rose by 2.9% in 2016.
There were a total of 38,947 rapes in 2016, compared to 34,651 in 2015.
Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of crimes against women. While the state recorded 14.5% of the total cases of crimes against women, it accounted for 12.4% of the total number of rape cases, second only to Madhya Pradesh, which recorded 12.5% of the total rape cases in 2016.
In urban India, Delhi accounted for 33% of the total crimes committed against women in metropolitan cities. The national capital also reported the highest crime rate among all metropolitan cities in 2016, at 182.1 per 100,000 population as opposed to the national average of 77.2. It accounted for 40% of rape cases committed in the metros.
Experts explained that the rising figures may be because more cases are being registered, with police now mandatorily required to register a case. However, policing still left a lot to be desired, they added.
While reporting gender-based crimes has become easier, experts stated that rape cases continue to be under-reported because of the social stigma that women and their families face.
“The police need to be sensitized. The police blame the women in most cases, especially in cases of domestic violence. The entire gamut of sexual offences also needs to be explained to them. The definition used to be narrow earlier but now it encompasses many more offences," said Rashmi Singh, former director of National Mission for Empowerment of Women.
At the other end of the crime spectrum, cybercrimes increased marginally by 6.3% in 2016, as opposed to 2015.
Uttar Pradesh accounted for the highest number of cybercrime cases at 21.4%, followed by Maharashtra (19.3% of the cases) and Karnataka (8.9%).
While CERT-In (Indian Computer Emergency Response Team) had, in August this year, issued 21 advisories to safeguard points of sale, micro ATMs, electronic wallets, online banking, smartphones, unified payments interface, SIM cards, wireless access routers and Aadhaar-enabled payment systems, the home ministry also said that it was working to safeguard the country’s cyber systems.
Experts said the spurt in cybercrimes had come especially in the post-demonetization period.
“The post-demonetization era saw the absence of any deterrent mechanism by way of legal provision. Today, the Indian information technology (IT) law goes soft on cyber crime, especially after the 2008 amendment because except cyber terrorism and child pornography, all other cybercrime offences are bailable. This means that a person is free to come out and delete evidence," said Pavan Duggal, cyber law expert at the Supreme Court.
The NCRB report also revealed that out of a total of 56,516 arms seized in 2016, Uttar Pradesh accounted for nearly half, at 27,189. Agencies such as the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) seized 350,000kg of contraband substances in 2016.
Ajai Sreevatsan contributed to this story.