THE DESPERATE STATE OF RAPE
India’s National Crime Records Bureau reports that registered rape cases in India had increased by almost 900% over the past 40 years. According to the Bureau’s 2013 annual report, 24,923 rape cases were reported across India in 2012. Because of the social stigma attached to sexual violence, a large number of rapes go unreported and unregistered. Some activists claim that only 10 percent of rapes are reported, while others estimate that as few as 1 percent are.
The vicious gang-rape of a 23 year old student in New Delhi, on 16 December 2012, brought national and international attention to these crimes against Indian women. In response to this rape, thousands of protestors all over India streamed the streets to demand justice. The protests were so large and severe that they got the attention of policy makers. As a result the government reformed its penal code for rape crimes and sexual assault. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) was expanded to make stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment a crime. It also imposes the death penalty on repeat offenders and for rape attacks that lead to the victim’s death. The law also makes it a crime for police officers to refuse to open cases when they receive complaints of sexual attacks. However, marital rape is still not considered to be a criminal offense under IPC. The Justice Verma Committee was appointed by the government, shortly after the New Delhi gang rape, to examine the country’s law on sexual violence. The committee’s final report includes police reforms, educational reforms, training of personnel in the criminal justice system and services such as well equipped rape-crisis centers.
Below are some links to organizations that are working to address the prevalence of rape in India: