Home minister RR Patil recently claimed that Maharashtra is safer than other states and crimes against women have gone down. However, the annual report ‘Crimes In Maharashtra 2011’, prepared by the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID), shows that the state witnessed 25.93% rise in rapes of minor girls in 2011 and a 3.69% rise in rapes of girls in the age group of 14 to 18 years. It also says that 3,661 molestation cases were registered in 2010 and 3,794 in 2011, thereby clearly showing a rise in such horrific incidents. So, what is the truth? Speak Up finds out...
Cops should not become judges and pass judgments
I do not buy the statistics of the police or the court. It is not reliable because a huge section of women do not have access to police stations or courts. Hence, a lot of cases never get registered. Many women, who have access to the law, feel that the police are not approachable and sensitive enough due to which they prefer not to lodge any complaints. Also, police officers consider women’s complaints as frivolous. But the police must do their duty and are supposed to register the complaints and investigate them. They should not become judges and pass judgments. Why is the Section 498A not taken seriously?
Rama Sarode, human rights activist
Police demand money even to register a complaint
I would not say that the crimes have gone down. The figures shown are incorrect as many complaints are not even registered. In urban India, the crimes at least come to light but in the rural areas, there is no freedom for women and they cannot approach the police freely. Even if they do, the police demand money to register a complaint. The police are getting lazy and do not want to counsel the families or even investigate the cases. The women who are victims of such heinous crimes are so emotionally traumatised, how do you expect them to fight for justice without any proper support from the system? The police undertake only those investigations where they are paid extra money below the table.
Kisan Patil, Former District Judge
As the system is corrupt, it may report a decline in crimes
Crimes against women are concealed, unrecorded and unregistered for many reasons. Therefore, the claim that these crimes have declined needs to be carefully evaluated.
To draw the conclusion that crime against women has declined because fewer of them have approached police stations is ridiculous. It is quite possible that the despotic power of the males has increased or police stations tend to ignore complaints filed or women feel more threatened and vulnerable after lodging complaints. The fear of repercussion and lack of protection from the state and its agencies (police) could have discouraged women to go to the authorities. Thus, the ground reality is starkly different from what the police department is portraying in terms of crimes going down.
Firstly, since the system is becoming corrupt, it is bound to report a decline in crimes due to which the statistics shown cannot be relied upon. Secondly, the police department, which is entrusted with reducing crimes against women, has a vested interest in under playing such cases. Thirdly, in a socially backward country like India, women are not treated equal to men. When they choose to lodge complaints against their husbands to the police, these women are usually sent back with an excuse that it is a personal matter that needs to be settled within the family. This applies to wife beating also. Even the process of registering a complaint causes harassment to the complainant. Instead of recording the statements immediately, the police make a preliminary investigation to ascertain if an offence has been committed or not. Women find it more difficult to regularly visit the police station for recording statements, answering questions etc.
Even male citizens fear going to police stations. So what has happened is that the police have in effect driven women away and are now claiming that the crimes against them have reduced. Also wife beating is a frequent occurrence, especially in rural areas, but it almost goes unreported. Certainly, the greatest crime against women is that they are cheated out of their inheritance. In recording mutations in land ownership, the names of female heirs are excluded.
Unlike men, women do not have resources to bribe the police. Hence, their complaints are less likely to be recorded and they are unlikely to get justice.
Implementing an effective Lokpal Bill and removing government control over the police and investigating agencies are the only means to improve this grim situation.
Arun Bhatia, retired IAS officer & Former PMC Commissioner
There are more suicides among women than men
In 1992, NCP chief Sharad Pawar started a strong campaign in support of women, focusing on their empowerment. It aimed at improving the status of women, but unfortunately not much progress has taken place. Now, we witness more problems among women who have been empowered. They number of women committing suicides is more compared to men, especially in the urban areas. This is happening because empowered women do not go out and talk about their domestic problems and violence faced. They are unable to remove their frustration and thus end up taking drastic steps. This shows that the crimes against women have not reduced, rather they are not being reported. Long ago Vasant Koregaokar, a cop, registered a case by using Code Of Criminal Procedure 110 when any woman came up with a compliant. But now this procedure is not being followed for reasons unknown. When crimes are committed against women, they usually end up dying which the police term as accidental deaths and they are never really investigated.
Bhaskar Misar, Ex-Commissioner of Police
Many lose hope while waiting for justice
If the number of crimes against women is reducing then it is good news but the statistics needs to be verified. Since the Domestic Violence Act was formed in 2006, the cases are now distributed under it. In many cases, women lose hope of getting any justice. They instead choose to part ways with their husbands and live in isolation rather than waiting for justice take its course.
Neelam Gorhe, Shiv Sena Spokesperson