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How Is Data On Sexual Violence Maintained In India And Pakistan?

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Unlike Pakistan, India has a dedicated website of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) that contains a very comprehensive data on most of the crimes that take place in India and its crime data goes from 1953 to 2016, writes Nafees Muhammad.

This is the second part of the article. Do read the first part.

Sexual violence is a universal crime of which no country is safe and the same is true for India as well. In previous column, we had reviewed the crime rate of sexual violence in Pakistan. In this part, I will discuss the trend of this crime in India.

Unlike Pakistan, India has a dedicated website of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) that contains a very comprehensive data on most of the crimes that take place in India and its crime data goes from 1953 to 2016. The current data is three years old and it shows 36,770 cases of rape and 2167 cases of gang rapes that were recorded in India during the year 2016. Among the victims were 16863 children (from infants to minors). Surprisingly, the data on children shows that all victims were girls. What about male children? Aren’t they subjected to this crime in India?

A selective data this writer has collected for 2018 covers 22 cases of rape in India and the victims were mostly females (5 teenage girls and 15 adult women) with the exception of two incidents in which two males were sodomized.  A further search on the subject solved this mystery when I looked at the page 191 of NCRB report that contained data on “Unnatural offences (Sec. 377 IPC)”. There were 1254 victims of the “unnatural offenses” in the whole country according to NCRB report for 2016.

However, this data doesn’t identify the age group of the victims and since the IPC 377 is related to “intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”, it is difficult to find out from the data as to who the victims were and what their age group was.

Anyhow, the number of victims who faced unnatural offenses in India was very minimal compared to the victims of rape in the same country. As against the 16863 children (infants, minor, and teenage girls) who were subjected to rape in India during 2016, the boys (age group unknown) subjected to these unnatural offenses were 1254 – only 7% of the girl victims.

The children victims of rape (girls and boys together) make up 45% of the total victims of rape in India; in Pakistan, it is 70%.  A sign that indicates higher rate of child molestation in Pakistan than in India.   Another possibility is that the cases of child molestations draw more attention of media than other cases of sexual violence.

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Based on a survey report on sexual violence in India, the most common perpetrators of sexual violence on unmarried women were other relatives (27%), followed by a current or former partner (18%), their own friend or acquaintance (17%) and family friend (11%) while close relatives had 7% involvement. As many as 630 rape offenses were committed by blood relatives like grandfathers, fathers, and brothers – nearly 2% of all cases.

In Pakistan, based on my data, blood relatives like fathers and brothers had 3% involvement in such crimes while close relatives had 10% involvement in it during 2018. A large number of perpetrators were those who can be categorized as acquaintance made up 27% and the remaining 60% were unknown perpetrators.

Despite being a punishable crime under the law of the land, practices of this crime go on in both countries unabatedly and women are the ones who suffer the most in either case, resisting sexual advances or indulging into love affairs.

The indifference of the society to such crime is an issue that continues haunting both countries – Pakistan and India. Yet there were some incidences where public outrage became too eminent. First incident was on 16 December 2012 when a most horrifying gang rape crime against a university student in a bus of Delhi had jolted the whole India and other parts of the world. The public reaction to such atrocities is a bit more common in Indian society than in Pakistan.

The rape and murder of a minor girl, Zainab, in Kasur district of Punjab was one of the most prominent crimes against children that had triggered the people of Pakistan to show their violent anger against the incident.  A series of fierce protests in Kasur and other parts of the country kept the government on its toes to apprehend and deliver punishment to the perpetrator. Since then, no other similar crime could cause that level of public reaction in the country. Even a most shocking and horrifying incident of gang rape of a mother and her young daughter by ten influential persons in front of elder parents of the victims in Muzaffargarh, Punjab went un-noticed by the common people and the parliamentarians as well.  No feeling of honor got hurt and no violent reaction emanated from this incident that had dishonored two helpless women.

In India too, influential people quite often manage to muster support in favor of their crimes based on their caste or religious faith. Two such cases can be cited here:  A brutal gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl, Asifa Bano, in Indian-held Kashmir in January 2018 that divided the society on Hindu-Muslim lines.

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Lawyers in Jammu tried to stop police from entering the court to file a charge sheet, one of the lawyers of the accused, alleged that the Muslim nomads were trying to alter the demographics of Jammu, where Hindus are in majority. While the crime did not receive much attention in Jammu, newspapers in Srinagar, the capital city located in the Kashmir valley, carried the story on their front pages.

Another incident, occurred on 13 December 2019, involved a lower caste woman beaten and set ablaze in Hindu Nagar village near Delhi by five men from her village – including two she had accused of having raped her last year.

The accused were from Hindu Nagar’s dominant landowning caste. Many upper-caste villagers defended the men and questioned the woman’s character, some dismissing her death as a love affair gone wrong. Dozens of women and young girls from the family of the accused men marched shouting slogans refuting the allegations against them.

A major difference between Pakistan and India that came to light during this research was the number of rape victims that were killed after rape.

The data available on Indian website shows 182 out of 38,937 rape victims were killed by the perpetrators across India during 2016 – only 0.5% of the total victims. In Pakistan, no police website carries this information and the data that was personally collected by me shows that 48 out of 191 rape victims were killed by the perpetrators during 2018 – about 25% of the total victims. 

Vulnerability of the victims because of their age, gender, economic disparity, and ineffective law enforcement system play a key role in encouraging the perpetrators to prowl upon their victims without feeling any shame or fearing any deterrence. These are age old practices that cannot be eradicated from the society without applying conscious efforts. The basic problem is; victims are too weak to raise their voice and the beneficiaries are too strong to quell any effort that can deprive perpetrators of the advantage they have. It is true for both countries – Pakistan and India.

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