The latest figures released by the J&K police reveal that there has been an increase in crimes against women in the UT since 2017.
According to a report by the Crime Branch of the J&K police, at least 3363 cases of atrocities against the fair sex were registered by the cops in 2017, including kidnapping, abduction, rape, molestation, dowry harassment, cruelty by husbands and other such crimes. Rape cases during 2017 were higher at 260 compared to the previous year, when 1602 cases of molestation, and 354 cases of rape were registered by the police across the 22 districts of the UT.
In 2018, 1079 cases of abduction and kidnapping were registered, showing an increase of 119 cases compared to 2017.
The highest rate of crimes against women were registered in Srinagar, where 500 cases were registered as against 357 cases in Jammu. Cases of molestation and kidnapping have also been on the rise in Srinagar compared to other districts.
The increase in cases of rape, abduction, molestation and domestic violence has created deep concern among the civil society as well as women. The authorities, however, claim that steps have been initiated to curb violence against women, including the setting up of 6 all-women police stations in 2017. But, there has not been much change in the situation. Regional National Conference Women’s Wing president Ms. Shameena Firdous alleges that the administration has failed to mitigate problems faced by women in the UT.
Ms. Safeena Baigh, PDP Women’s Wing president, feels that the number of crimes against women are rising because the victims hesitate to come forward to file a case. Many cases go unreported because of the stigma attached to it. There is need to address these cases and strengthen the institutions that deal with it. While the society as a whole has to address the problem the media should highlight these cases, she says.
The official data of the Crime Branch, Srinagar, paints a grim picture of the struggle the rape survivors have to undergo while fighting their cases legally. Data collected till March 2019 shows that 1046 rape cases are on trial in J&K courts, of which 841 are pending since 2014. About 820 of these cases involve minor victims.
According to police reports, in the first quarter of 2019, 64 rape cases were registered in J&K, of which 33 included minor victims. The conviction rate in the previous six years was less than 5 per cent.
During the period ended April, 2020, the J&K administration had submitted a report in the court, which revealed that 16 cases of rape and 64 cases of molestation had been registered in the UT during the lockdown period.
The data given below exposes how crimes against women have become a norm rather than an exception in J&K. In 2014, 352 cases of crime against women were registered, out of which 265 involved minor girls. The number of cases in 2015 were 312, including 251 cases involving minors. Of the 263 cases registered in 2016, 204 included crimes against minors. In 2017, 314 cases were registered, of which 213 were crimes against minors. The figures for 2018 are 359 cases, including 273 against minors.
The kidnap, rape and murder of a 21-year final year degree student in broad daylight in the Akhal hamlet of Kashmir has not gathered much attention in the UT as well as at the national level despite protests by the locals demanding justice. The question arises whether our society has become impervious to such heinous and gruesome deeds. The valley was once known for its morally upright culture. What has brought about such a drastic change?
A few days after the death of the 21-year old student at the hands of rapists, a similar case was reported from Devsar in Kulgam district of Kashmir. A 17-year old girl was brutally raped. The heinous deed, recorded in a mobile phone, was later shared by the accused on the social media. In this case, the police acted quickly and nabbed the culprits.
The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) has exposed the law enforcement agencies in J&K for the slow progress in investigations into the crimes against women. NCRB has revealed that nearly half of the cases registered one year back are still to be investigated into. A total of 3069 cases were registered, of which 1589 cases are pending investigation. Cases of 12,518 crimes against women are pending in courts in this UT.
After Kashmir’s special constitutional status ended in August, 2019, the Central Government disbanded the Women’s Commission in Srinagar, which has deprived the women in the UT of a refuge and ally in the times of distress, according to women’s activists.