In the first eight months of 2021, there was a 46% increase in complaints of violence against women compared to the same period last year, with UP accounting for more than half of these, says the National Commission of Women.
The NCW received 19,953 complaints of crimes against women from January to August this year, up from 13,618 in the same period last year. The NCW reported that 7,036 complaints were filed 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.
Among states and union territories, Uttar Pradesh received the most complaints (10,084), followed by Delhi (2,147), Haryana (995), and Maharashtra (974), according to the commission. According to NCW chief Rekha Sharma, the increase in complaints is due to increased awareness among women to report crimes.
According to NCRB data, robbery, dacoity, and murder cases in UP decreased steadily between 2017 and 2019. In 2017, UP recorded 4,089 thefts, which fell to 3,218 in 2018 and 2,241 in 2019. Similarly, the number of reported cases of dacoity in the state has nearly halved, from 263 in 2017 to 144 in 2018 and 124 in 2019. Murder cases had also decreased from 4,324 in 2017 to 4,018 in 2018 and 3,806 in 2019.
However, when it comes to crimes against women, UP has the highest number of cases, with 59,445 in 2018 and 59,853 in 2019. Furthermore, according to a February 2, 2021, Lok Sabha reply, UP has the third-highest number of pending cases of crimes against women (1.84 lakh). West Bengal tops the list with 2.57 lakh such pending cases, followed by Maharashtra with 2.07 lakh.
Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of crime cases, followed by the National Capital Delhi. But Uttar Pradesh counts for five times the number of cases recorded of Delhi.
Domestic violence – 4289
Cyber-crime – 585
Exploitation for dowry – 2923
Life and honour – 7836
Cases recorded in States:
Uttar Pradesh – 10,084
Delhi – 2,147
Haryana – 995
Maharashtra – 974
NCW chief Rekha Sharma explained the sharp increase in cases by saying it was because the commission is regularly conducting awareness campaigns, and the public is now more aware of its work, increasing complaints.
“In addition, the commission has always made a point of launching new initiatives to assist women. In keeping with this, we have also found a 24-hour helpline number to provide support services to women in need, where they can also file a complaint, “Sharma was quoted as saying by the news agency PTI.
According to Akansha Srivastava, founder of the Akanksha Foundation, which works for the education and empowerment of people by imparting knowledge on cyber safety, the rise in complaints, is due to increased awareness among women to seek help.
She says, “When complaints arise, it is a good thing because it means more women dare to speak up because of the increased awareness, and also they are now aware of the platforms where they can report.
People are reaching out now. Earlier women did not come forward to lodge their complaints as they didn’t know what they were going through is harassment, but now they do, and they are coming forward to report, which is a good thing.”
Violence against women is widespread in India, limiting educational attainment and earning potential while incurring high economic and social costs. COVID-19 has exposed the gender equality fault lines, increasing the incidence of domestic violence during the lockdown.
Social programs to educate men and boys about gender issues and community-level platforms such as SHGs should be strengthened to raise awareness about women’s safety mechanisms, sexual and reproductive health, and family planning options.