New Delhi: Twentyone cases of sexual abuse of women, on an average, are reported in the capital every day, according to the latest figures released by the police. These include six cases of rape and 15 of molestation. This year 1,750 cases of rape and 4,406 of molestation were reported by October 15. This is the highest number of such crimes in 15 years for the same period.
However, Delhi Police top brass say the rising rape and molestation cases were a sign of its "zero-tolerance policy in filing cases". Police also claim to have solved almost 90 percent of rape and molestation cases.
Senior Delhi Police officers refused to comment on the issue, but they said that the rising number shows an attempt not to hide any offence.
"We follow a zero-tolerance policy in registering rape and molestation cases. We don't bother whether the crime graph is rising or falling. Our priority is to register cases and act promptly," an officer, who did not want to be named, told IANS.
Although Delhi Police claim that an overwhelming majority of sexual crime cases were solved, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) says the conviction rate is very low.
DCW chief Swati Maliwal agreed that the police were filing cases of atrocities against women in a more proactive way. But she questioned the force's investigation process.
"I met the Delhi Police Commissioner a few weeks ago and asked him about the cases of atrocities registered against Delhi women in 2014. I was surprised that the police had filed 11,000 such cases in 2014, but charge-sheet was filed in only 3,500 cases and only nine persons were convicted," Maliwal told IANS.
Maliwal said that only registration of cases of crimes against women was not enough, the police should file the charge-sheet in each and every case promptly, and the victims should be given proper counseling so that they do not become hostile.
"Speedy forensic science laboratory reports are crucial in solving such cases. Finally, more fast-track courts for sexual crimes should be set up in the capital to hear such cases," Maliwal said.
Last year, 1,725 rape cases and 3,487 molestation cases were reported for the same corresponding period (January-October 15, 2014). A total of 2,166 cases of rape and 4,322 cases of molestation were registered in the full year.
In 2013, at least 1,636 rape cases and 3,515 molestation cases were reported in the national capital. In 2012, the numbers were 706 rape and 727 molestation.
The officer said the prevention of rapes by policing was difficult as in 95 percent cases the accused is someone the victim knows well.
"Only a small percentage of the rapes are committed by strangers," the officer said.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)