Rise in Complaints of Crimes against Women in 2021


    In Context 

    • There was a 46 per cent rise in complaints of crimes against women in the first eight months of 2021 over the corresponding period of last year.

    Major Points 

    • The NCW received a total of 19,953 complaints of crimes against women from January to August this year, up from 13,618 in the corresponding period of 2020.
      • Of the 19,953 complaints, the highest number of 7,036 were recorded under the right to live with dignity clause, followed by 4,289 complaints of domestic violence and 2,923 complaints of harassment of married women or dowry harassment.
        • The right to live with dignity clause takes into account the emotional abuse of women.
    • Among states and union territories, the highest number of complaints was received from Uttar Pradesh (10,084), followed by Delhi (2,147), Haryana (995) and Maharashtra (974)
    • Why did complaints start rising?
      • There has been a rise in complaints because the commission has been regularly conducting awareness programs due to which the public is now more aware of its work and women started to report crimes.
        • Earlier women might not be coming forward to lodge their complaint….they didn’t know what they are going through is harassment but now they do, and they are coming forward to report which is a good thing,

    Impact of COVID-19 on Crime against women 

    • All types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified since the outbreak of COVID-19.
    • Emerging data shows an increase in calls to domestic violence helplines in many countries since the outbreak of COVID-19.
    • In some countries, resources and efforts have been diverted from violence against women response to immediate COVID-19 relief.
    • This is the Shadow Pandemic growing amidst the COVID-19 crisis and we need a global collective effort to stop it.

    Violence against Women

    • In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. 
    • The Declaration defines violence against women as ‘any act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

    Global Efforts to tackle it 

    • The European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) have embarked on a new, global, multi-year initiative focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG) – The Spotlight Initiative.
    • The Initiative is so named as it brings focused attention to this issue, moving it into the spotlight and placing it at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
    • Women’s rights activists have observed 25 November as a day against gender-based violence since 1981
      • This date was selected to honour the Mirabal sisters, three political activists from the Dominican Republic who were brutally murdered in 1960 by order of the country’s ruler, Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).


    • Unreported Cases
      • Crimes against Women remain mostly unreported globally.
      • Fear of societal shame is a big reason for under-reporting.
      • NFHS 4 showed that 1 in every 3 women faced some kind of violence but only 1.5% of them have reported it to Police
    • Less Sensitized Police Personnel: Police are the first person to encounter the Victim or accused. 
    • Pending Cases: Cases relating to crimes against women have the most backlog, close to 89.6%. The conviction rate is also very low.
    • Time-Bound Investigations: Laidback behaviour of the investigating authorities in a time-bound way is a major roadblock. 
    • Making Laws without proper implementation
      • Just making the laws will not work, needs to be checked for its proper implementation. 
      • Unnao case proves that making laws is not sufficient, its proper implementation is necessary
    • Gender Disparity: Discriminatory gender norms and stereotypes coupled with prevalent patriarchy leads to crimes against women.
    • Female infanticide and Sex-selective Abortions: Even in Modern India, daughters are still considered an economic burden. 
    • Awareness and education about Women rights
      • This is the most difficult challenge to overtake.
      • Everyone should be aware of their rights. When giving education to young children, this should be kept in mind. 
      • The barrier of inequity needs to be broken at lower levels. 
    • Trafficking and forced prostitution
      • It is so prevalent all over the world.
      • People are trafficked to different states and even countries in the bait of jobs and later are forced to do manual work or even worse prostitution.
    • Online Abuse and harassment
      • As the internet becomes an increasingly important part of human existence to make their voices heard, a woman’s inability to feel safe online is an impediment to her freedom.
      • Women are regularly subject to online rape threats, online harassment, cyber-stalking, blackmail, trolling, slut-shaming and more. 
    • Data and statistics
      • Proper statistics and data is missing to reach the exact numbers.
      • Even the numbers already present are not enough to have a stringent policy with effective implementation.
    • Harassment at the workplace

    Laws and Measures were taken in India

    • Legislations
      • Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
      • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
      • Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
      • Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
      • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
    • ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order ‘are State subjects under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. 
      • State Governments are thus responsible for the safety and security of the citizens including women and girls.
    • The Government has also taken a number of initiatives for the safety of women and girls, which are given below:
      • Nirbhaya Fund for projects for the safety and security of women
        • One-Stop Centre Scheme to provide integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence, both in private and public spaces under one roof
        • the Scheme of ‘Universalisation of Women Helpline’ and 
        • the Scheme of ‘Mahila Police Volunteers
      • Online analytic tool for police called “Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences” to monitor and track time-bound investigation in sexual assault cases in accordance with Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2018.
      • National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO) to facilitate investigation and tracking of sexual offenders across the country by law enforcement agencies
      • In order to coordinate various initiatives for women safety, MHA has set up a Women Safety Division.
        • MHA has issued advisories to all State Governments/UTs, advising them to ensure a thorough investigation, conducting of medical examination of rape victims without delay and for increasing gender sensitivity in Police.
    • The Criminal Law (Amendment), Act 2013 was enacted for effective legal deterrence against sexual offences. 
      • Further, ‘The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018’ has also been enacted making the punishment for offences like rape more stringent by including the death penalty for rape of a girl below the age of 12 years. 
      • The Act also mandates the completion of investigation and trials within 2 months each.
    • Emergency Response Support System (ERSS), which provides a single emergency number (112) based computer-aided dispatch of field resources to the location of distress has been operationalized in 20 States/ UTs in 2018-19.
    • A cyber-crime portal has been launched for citizens to report obscene content. 
    • Cyber Crime Forensic Labs have been set up in several States, and training of over 3,664 personnel, including 410 Public Prosecutors and Judicial Officers in identifying, detecting and resolving cyber-crimes against women and children has been imparted.
    • In order to improve investigation, steps have been taken to strengthen DNA analysis units in Central and State Forensic Science Laboratories. 
      • This includes setting up a State-of-the-Art DNA Analysis Unit in Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Chandigarh. 
      • Setting up and upgrading of DNA Analysis units in State Forensic Science Laboratories in 13 States/ UTs have also been sanctioned under Nirbhaya Fund.
    • Guidelines have been notified for the collection of forensic evidence in sexual assault. 

    Way Ahead

    • Most of the problems would reduce if the Country has a stringent policy with even more stringent implementation. Everything else can follow.
    • Countries should honour their commitments to increased and strong political will and leadership to tackle violence against women in all its forms, through:
      • Sound gender transformative policies, from policies around childcare to equal pay, and laws that support gender equality,
      • A strengthened health system response that ensures access to survivor-centred care and referral to other services as needed.
      • School and educational interventions to challenge discriminatory attitudes and beliefs, including comprehensive sexuality education,
      • Targeted investment in sustainable and effective evidence-based prevention strategies at local, national, regional and global levels, and
      • Strengthening data collection and investing in high-quality surveys on violence against women and improving measurement of the different forms of violence experienced by women, including those who are most marginalized.
    • The state has to work towards making people aware of laws like the POCSO Act, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act etc. The state should also make the penalties of not abiding by these laws clear to the public.
    • More needs to be done to prioritize addressing violence against women in COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.

    Source: IE