THE ALARMING STATE OF AFFAIRS
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 2020 annual report, 24,923 rape cases were reported across India in 2019. But this is just the tip of the iceberg! 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 Nirbhaya, 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. How these changes will affect reality on the ground is yet to be seen.
Below are some links to organizations that are working to address the prevalence of rape in India. Please consider supporting them: