India's Hindi Heartland Has A Gangrape Problem
Since 2014, 70% of all gangrapes were reported in UP, MP, Rajasthan and Haryana.
The recent incidents of alleged gangrape and murder of a 19-year-old woman in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras, and a 22-year-old woman in Balrampur has left the country baffled, reigniting the subject of women's safety.
However, the issue of gangrape is hardly new to the country, and has been symbolic of the violence faced by women in India since the Nirbhaya incident in Delhi in 2012
Since 2014, The National Crime Records Bureau started including data on gangrapes in the country, which has painted a particularly sombre picture for India's Hindi belt.
Prevalence Of Gangrapes In Hindi Belt
From 2014 - 2019, there were a total of 12257 cases of gangrapes reported in India. Uttar Pradesh (UP) (3182 cases), Rajasthan (2987 cases), Madhya Pradesh (MP) (1361) and Haryana (1098 cases) reported 70% of all gangrapes (8619 cases) on women since 2014, while having only 25% of India's female population.
West Bengal, Maharashtra and Delhi, followed with 646, 573 and 488 cases, respectively.
While the overall number of cases only increased marginally in 2019 from the previous year (from 1826 to 1931 cases), Rajasthan saw a 62% increase in reported gangrapes. Meanwhile, cases in Uttar Pradesh have seen a nearly 30% decline in such cases since 2017. In the 2018 report, UP reported a 27% decrease in reported cases from the previous year.
Note - NCRB used 2018 figures for West Bengal in the latest report, as the state is yet to provide the data for 2019.
Last year, 6% of all reported cases of rape were under gangrape. While the number of reported gangrapes since 2014 has seen a steady fall, in 2019 there was a 6% rise in such cases from the previous year.
Custodial Rape And Murder With Rape
Uttar Pradesh painted a particularly grim picture - having only 17% of India's female population, it accounted for 72% of all reported rapes of women in custody (by police, armed forces, public servants, hospital staff, jail staff) since 2014.
In 2014 and 2015, 11 cases of custodial gangrapes were reported in India - out of which 9 were reported in UP. This particular figure has not been included in the NCRB report since then.
Since 2017, the NCRB reported started including reported cases of murder with rape/gangrape - which showed a 20% increase in such cases last year. In 2017, 132 such cases were reported, while in 2018 and 2019, the number of such cases were at 187 and 223.
Last year, Maharashtra had the highest number of reported murder with rape/gangrape (47 cases), followed by MP (37 cases), UP (34 cases), Assam (26 cases) and Karnataka (23 cases).
No Country For Women
In 2019, 87 cases of rape were reported everyday in the country, while crimes against women saw an increase of 7% from the previous year. But this hardly paints an accurate picture of sexual violence faced by women in the country with most cases going unreported.
In 2006, the NCRB reported stated that around 71% of the rapes in India go unreported. A 2013 study by professors at University of Texas put this figure at an estimate of 54%. In reality, such an estimate will be hard to arrive at, given the complexities in conducting surveys on rape.
Furthermore, marital rape is not considered a crime in the country and thus it is nearly impossible to find an actual figure of this decriminalised crime in the country. However, past studies have shown that most rapes are carried out by someone known to the victim, which frequently includes intimate partner.
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