Mumbai, Jan. 17: Mumbai seems to be in a hurry to catch up with Delhi, the country’s crime capital.
The city, which recorded 187 cases of rape last year, added one more to its tally when a 50-year-old vendor was raped in south Mumbai a little after midnight on Monday.
The incident ' reminiscent of several cases recorded in Delhi recently ' took place in a moving taxi on its way to Bandra around 1.45 am on Tuesday. The accused, 40-year-old Shyam Papa Kharwa, has been arrested and police have registered a case.
Flaunting the safest-city tag till a few years ago, Mumbai accounts for the highest number of rape and molestation cases in Maharashtra every year, according to statistics compiled by the state crime records bureau.
Delhi recorded 633 rape cases last year ' the highest ever in any Indian city. Among the four metros, Calcutta is last on the list with 21 cases.
The police, however, are not willing to stick the unsafe label on Mumbai yet. ‘‘Last year, the total figure of rape cases in Mumbai was 172. There has been a marginal increase this year but Mumbai is still the safest city in the country. It is not right to compare it to any other city,’’ said the city’s joint commissioner of police (crime), Meeran Borwankar.
Along with the adjoining Thane rural ' where 60 cases were lodged last year ' and Thane commissionerate ' it recorded 57 ' Mumbai accounts for over 20 per cent of all rape cases in Maharashtra.
A document titled Crime in Maharashtra, prepared by the state crime records bureau, presents some disturbing statistics. “One rape occurs in the state every six hours, there is a molestation case every three hours, one case of cruelty by husband and relatives every hour and two cases of sexual harassment a day,” it says.
A comparative study of 2004 and 2005 shows a 10 per cent increase in the incidence of rape cases in the state. The number of cases reported in 2004 was 1,392 as against 1,276 the year before.
Of the 1,392 cases in 2004, an alarming number of the victims were teenagers. Over 45 per cent of the incidents involved girls below 18, while in 419 cases, they were in the age group of 14 to 18. Girls below 14 fell victim in 133 incidents and in 85 cases, they were not even 10.
“Yes, it’s startling, but it also indicates that in most cases it is an acquaintance who has taken undue advantage. In fact, the victim may have suffered rape more than once and is silent fearing the family or is just blackmailed by her tormentor,” said social activist and lawyer Flavia Agnes.
The bureau report echoes Agnes. “Most crimes against women go unreported due to the fear of social stigma,” it points out.
Apart from rape, incidents of molestation and sexual harassment, too, have gone up in Maharashtra ' in 2004, there were 2,831 cases of molestation, a 7 per cent increase from the previous year.