Disturbing statistics

There is no denying that India is a deeply misogynistic country where patriarchal power structures have resulted in violent crimes against women which continue to rise despite progress in many other areas. The horrific cases of rape and murder in Jharkhand in recent days are a reminder of the dire need for society as a whole and administrators in particular to focus on educating boys so that they do not become men by objectifying women and denying them free will. Meanwhile, all political parties must stop using rape statistics for meaningless purposes. Data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recently showed that Rajasthan recorded 6,337 rape cases in 2021, the highest of any state. The state, currently ruled by the Congress party, has alternated between BJP and Congress rule for decades, but there has been no appreciable decline in violent crimes against women, including rape, under any circumstances. administration.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has, like others before him, attributed the spike in rape cases to the rapid and compulsory filing of first information reports (FIRs) by the police, which is neither here nor there -down. What has sparked serious debate in political circles and civil society, however, is Mr. Gehlot’s revelation of the granular details of recorded rape FIRs. He said, “56% of the cases of crimes against women in the state are later found to be false. Those who register false cases will not be spared. The government has started to take action in such cases. He went on to reveal that the data in the majority of rape cases shows that the perpetrators are “the relatives of the women and people known to the family”. As for his first assertion, if true, it’s an extremely troubling trend.

Some may attribute it to what can be called the scarcity and ethics paradigm in which the woman who makes a false allegation about such a heinous crime did so because she is denied free will and that her lack of access to society’s goods leads her to abandon the ethical framework. . For this too, however, society must bear much of the blame, although this is no reward for anyone wrongfully or maliciously accused. As for Mr. Gehlot’s second assertion, again, if correct, it is a clear indictment of the much-vaunted family and societal system that exists in India and is in dire need of reform from the perspective of gender.

The larger point that needs to be made is that once rape statistics become part of political bashing, we are on a slippery slope. The NCRB data itself makes a distinction between ‘increasing crime’ and ‘increasing police recording of crimes’. Whether they come from the Treasury benches or the ranks of the opposition, it is lawmakers who must ultimately figure out how to strengthen the legal framework to help stem the growing incidence of rape in India. This is the one issue on which bipartisanship is the need of the hour.

A version of this story appears in the print edition of the September 72022, number.