Delhi cops report surge in sex crimes

2013-03-30 20:09
Activists from India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party shout anti-government and police slogans as they demand the resignation of The Delhi Chief Minister during a protest in New Delhi. (AFP)

Activists from India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party shout anti-government and police slogans as they demand the resignation of The Delhi Chief Minister during a protest in New Delhi. (AFP)

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New Delhi - Police announced on Saturday a sharp jump in sex crimes reported in the Indian capital since the fatal gang-rape of a student and attributed the rise to more confidence among victims to report complaints.

"More women are shedding their inhibitions and registering complaints with us. After the 16 December gang-rape, nobody in Delhi wants to brush crime under the carpet," Deepak Mishra, law and order commissioner, told AFP.

There was a 148% leap in rape accusations lodged with police to 359 incidents between 1 January and 24 March this year from the same period in 2012 and a 590% rise in molestation reports to 794, police said.

The brutal attack on a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a bus in New Delhi on 16 December that resulted in her death nearly two weeks later sparked nationwide outrage and prompted parliament to toughen penalties for sex crimes.

‘Not ignoring a single incident of crime’

Though gang-rapes and sexual harassment are common in India, the case touched a nerve and led to a flood of criticism about the treatment of women in society.

"Cases of sex crimes have shot up in 2013 because we are following a strict rule of not ignoring a single incident of crime," said Mishra, who is responsible for crime prevention in the capital.

Before the December gang-rape, Mishra said, Delhi police had a policy in many instances of investigating incidents before registering a formal case, leading to complaints by women that authorities were turning a blind eye to sex crimes.

But now "the instruction is clear - every crime incident should be recorded", said Mishra.

The city has a burgeoning population of at least 16 million and has long had a reputation of being the country's "rape capital" as it records the highest number of rapes annually.

In 2012 there were 700 rapes reported in New Delhi, a 23% rise from the previous year, police said.

Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association, a rights group, also attributed the sharp jump in sex cases in New Delhi to more confidence among women to register complaints.

"They are more open to using the word 'rape' as before it was considered too much a shameful word to utter" for fear of being stigmatised in sexually conservative India, she told AFP.

‘Sex crimes not decreasing’

At the same time, Krishnan noted that while Indian authorities have announced a string of measures to help women feel safer "incidents of sex crimes are not decreasing".

Earlier this month, a Swiss cyclist was allegedly gang-raped in central Madhya Pradesh state and a British tourist in Agra jumped off a hotel balcony fearing she was going to be sexually attacked.
Read more on:    india  |  india bus rape  |  gender rights

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