India’s national capital Delhi has been known as the country’s rape capital at least since 2012, after the brutal gangrape of a young woman on a moving bus in what the media calls the Nirbhaya case. Now, after the release of statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau, the city could also be called India’s stalking capital given that the 1,124 cases of stalking were registered in 2015, second to Maharashtra’s figure of 1,399, but still appalling given that the state of Delhi is essentially composed of a single city, while Maharashtra is one of the largest states in the country.
NCRB records show that stalking cases in Delhi grew from 541 in 2014 to 1,124 in 2015. But stalking is just one of a whole list of crimes against women, of which 17,104 were recorded in 2015, up from 15,265 in 2014. Cases of molestation increased from 4,179 in 2014 to 5,367 in 2015, and rape cases went up from 2,166 in 2014 to 2,199 in 2015.
According to the NCRB report, most of the victims in these cases were in the age group of 18-30 and the perpetrators in 90 per cent of the cases were known to them.
Perhaps these figures reflect less of a rise in crimes against women than more complaints to the police. Anandhi Shanmugasundaram, gender rights activist, told SheThePeople.TV: “The number of rape cases is probably constant or might even have decreased since the Nirbhaya case. But we have no clue since the reporting (to the police) earlier was much lower. Reportage on rape cases has increased now.”
The same could be said for the stalking cases. According to Delhi lecturer Ankita Tripathi, “The situation has become much better now. I remember two or three years ago when I was studying at Delhi University, cases of stalking used to be worse. I had to travel by local train from Faridabad and the scenario was just too bad.”
Newly married Neelima Jain agrees with Tripathi. “I feel that the situation has become better,” she says. “Stalking and eve teasing are not as bad as earlier, when we were terrified of the local goons.”
Adds Sukanya Kirti, a resident of West Delhi, “I am studying in North Campus and I do feel stalking in a problem, but police are doing their work in the campus. Their Himmat app works pretty well, these initiatives have really helped build the confidence in me to report cases.”
Still, though women believe the police do act on their complaints, a number of issues remain. For instance, it takes years for a crime to reach a court verdict, so charges are often dropped, especially if the perpetrator is known to the victim. And the police attitude towards victims of such crimes remains as poor as ever.
“There is an increase in instantaneous registration, but we need to ask why the investigation process remains as shoddy as it was in and before 2012. The language used by police officers is perverse. There is a dire need to follow basic protocols for investigation,” Supreme Court lawyer Rebecca Mammen John told Indiaspend.
Feature image credit: Live Mint