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Dig deeper: Editorial on the rise in crimes against women as per latest NCRB data

What does it say about a ‘resurgent India’, that crimes against women, children, and senior citizens saw an increase in 2022, according to the data released by the National Crime Records Bureau?

The Editorial Board Published 12.12.23, 07:17 AM
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Crime is an evolving phenomenon; it changes with and reflects the prevalent social realities. What does it say about a ‘resurgent India’, then, that crimes against women, children, senior citizens, the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes saw an increase in 2022, according to the latest data released by the National Crime Records Bureau? Clues to this question perhaps lie in the fact that Uttar Pradesh, which shouldered the heaviest burden of crimes against women, paternalistically banned women from attending tuitions after 8 pm, allegedly to keep them safe. This is in spite of the fact that most crimes against women were committed by someone inside their familial circle as per the data. As long as the onus of staying safe is placed on women, such crimes will continue. Calcuttans, however, have reasons to be assured: Bengal’s capital has emerged as the safest in the country for the third year in a row. But there is no reason to rest on these laurels. Not only did the ‘safest city’ see a rise in crime against women and children but it also witnessed a spate of kidnappings — indicative of thriving trafficking networks. Moreover, West Bengal stands in the third position, just after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, with 7,403 cases of kidnapping of women. The state also topped the chart when it came to acid attacks against women and is among the top five states in dowry deaths.

It is often argued by governments that these numbers point to greater awareness and thus greater reporting of crimes and are not necessarily a testament to an increase in crimes themselves. Even if that were the case, Bengal has also reported a 92.8% pendency rate of cases which is not encouraging for the cause of justice. What must not be forgotten is that crime is not merely a law and order issue: embedded social challenges act as catalysts. For instance, crimes against women are the result of a combination of structural impediments involving patriarchy, misogyny, and the depletion of economic and social agency of women, among other factors. Data from the National Family Health Survey indicate that so deep are the roots of toxic masculine mores that a significant percentage of married women end up justifying — and, hence, perpetuating — the violence that is inflicted upon them. Robust, yet sensitive, policing must be accompanied by collective awareness to identify and address the subterranean conditions that are the catalysts of crime.

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