Crimes Against Women Rose By 15% In 2021, Experts Say Laws Need To Be Implemented Strongly On Ground

Around 31% of all crimes against women registered in 2021 were of domestic abuse, followed by assaults and molestation at 20.8%.

Representative photo

Crimes against women in India increased by 15.3 per cent in 2021, according to recently-released National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data. 

Not only total number of cases registered but the rate of crimes against women also increased. The rate of cases registered per lakh women population increased to 64.5 in 2021 from 56.5 in 2020. 

In the wake of the NCRB report, experts have said that a strong on-ground implementation of laws is required. 

Besides independent epxerts, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) also urged the governments to take the matter seriously. DCW chief Swati Maliwal highlighted that women's safety remained on the manifesto of every and it's now needed to convert these promises into ground realities.

NCRB report on crimes against women in India

A total of 4,28,278 cases of crimes against women were registered across India in 2021, marking an increase of 15.3 per cent from 2020.

Majority of cases under crime against women were registered under ‘Cruelty by Husband or His Relatives’ (31.8 per cent), followed by ‘Assault on Women with Intent to Outrage her Modesty’ (20.8 per cent), ‘Kidnapping  and Abduction of Women’ (17.6 per cent), and ‘Rape’ (7.4%), according to the NCRB report.

What experts say on crimes against women

Ranjana Kumari, a social activist and director of the Centre for Social Research, said the NCRB data validates that crimes against women increased during the pandemic.

"We need a more robust system as the current one collapsed during Covid-19. We need to look at the future and prevent such a situation," she told PTI.

Yogita Bhayana, a women rights activist who heads People Against Rape in India, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about respect for women in his Independence Day address and it is high time that standard operating procedures (SOPs) and systems that have been put in place get implemented well on the ground. 

"Action-oriented steps must take place. Even the Nirbhaya case took nine years for justice. A strong message against rape has not been given yet," Bhayana said.

Also, the NCRB report said 45,026 females committed suicide in 2021 in the country, of whom more than half were housewives.

Rising crimes against women in Covid-19 pandemic

Notably, the spike in the crimes against women has come amid the Covid-19 pandemic and most of the cases are of domestic abuse. It is in line with the global observations that note that domestic violence against women and girls has increased in the ongoing pandemic.

"Since the outbreak of Covid-19, emerging data and reports from those on the front lines, have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified," said a United Nations report.

An expert also noted that the higher proportion of housewives among women victims of suicides higlights the oppressed patriarchal set up in the society.

The NCRB reported that of the 45,026 women suicide victims, 23,178 were housewives — more than half. The report further revealed that the proportion of women suicide victims was more in marriage-related issues, specifically in dowry-related issues, and impotence and infertility. 

Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of the Population Foundation of India, said the high proportion of housewives in this data shows the stress on women due to patriarchal social norms, their status in families, and how the pandemic exacerbated these challenges. 

"While the Covid-induced lockdowns protected many from the virus, women stuck in abusive relationships faced the brunt of being locked up at home with their abusers. Abusive husbands and family members had more time due to fewer or no work hours to oppress vulnerable family members," said Muttreja.

The National Commission for Women in 2020-21 received 26,513 domestic-violence complaints from women, an increase of 25.09 percent compared to the 20,309 complaints registered in 2019-20. 

Since the pandemic has only exacerbated existing problems, it would be important to work on empowering women by all means, through education, creating economic opportunities and opposing regressive social norms, Muttreja said. 

She added, "We also need to reimagine health systems not only in terms of changing policy but also in terms of expansion of services, especially those relating to mental health."

(With PTI inputs)