Be it rape, disrobing, sexual harassment or dowry death, Odisha figures prominently on the national crime radar. One of the most vital but worrying piece of statistics cited is: acquittals in as many as 4,669 cases against merely 372 convictions.
Odisha has come to acquire the dubious distinction of being ranked among 10 Indian states with a high crime rate against women. Recently released National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures paint a grim picture of the state as one of the most unsafe places for women in the country.
Be it rape, disrobing, sexual harassment or dowry death the state figures prominently on the national crime radar. One of the most vital but worrying piece of statistics cited is acquittals in as many as 4,669 cases against merely 372 convictions, the rate of convictions being the fifth lowest in the country.
High rate of crime against women has been a feature of the state’s socio-demographic profile for the last few decades. One of the most significant and unfortunate developments on this front in the recent past has been a marked increase in the incidents of rape of minor girls. They have been falling victim to predators in varied garbs, the accused in one of the most recent cases being her own teacher.
At least 4,749 such cases were reported in the state between 2014 and 2017. The number of gang-rapes also showed an increase during this period with as many as 385 cases being registered in different police stations.
Crime against women, be it violent sexual crimes or cases of domestic abuse, reflect poorly on the law and order situation in the state. Increase in violence against the members of the fair sex is also indicative of their vulnerability to attacks. Low conviction rate, an obvious result of the sloppy investigation in most cases, contributes signifintly to their vulnerability as criminals get emboldened when they go scot free.
On the positive side, more and more women are now approaching the police to report crimes against them. With progressive thinking gaining traction rape survivors no more have to fight the fear of social stigma in such cases. They are getting social support and can hope to lead a normal life leaving the trauma of sexual assault behind them. This is encouraging women to challenge their tormentors and seek justice with a vengeance. This has contributed significantly to the rise in registered cases of crime against women, especially rapes. In the past many such cases used to go unreported.
Violence against women (VAW) is one of the worst forms of crimes seen in society and an increase in its occurrence reflects poorly on our social fabric. It is worth remembering that the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Elimination of VAW (1993) states that “VAW is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that VAW is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.” The state government must take urgent steps to curb the rising trend of crime against members of the gentle sex.