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Crimes against SC/ST women, children up 15%, but conviction rate low, says House panel

Parliamentary panel says such cases should be registered under Prevention of Atrocities Act, recommends home affairs ministry sensitise public authorities, promote gender equality.

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New Delhi: A report by the Parliament Standing Committee on Home Affairs on atrocities and crimes against women and children has highlighted the poor conviction rates and high pendency of cases related to crimes against women belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

The report, tabled in the Rajya Sabha last week, stated that while there has been an increase of 15.55 per cent in crimes against women and children from SC/ST communities in the last three years (2017-2019), the conviction rate under Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act in the same period has been as low as 26.86 per cent, with pendency at an alarming 84.09 per cent.

The panel has recommended that law enforcement agencies should include the provisions of the PoA Act while registering cases of rape, sexual harassment, etc., committed against SC/ST women.

The panel is headed by Congress MP Anand Sharma. 

Crimes against SC/ST women and children on the rise

The panel noted data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to state that 15.73 per cent of the total 1,31,430 incidents of crime under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act from 2017 to 2019 have been against women and children. 

“This includes the offenses of rape, attempt to rape, and assault on women to outrage the modesty, insult to modesty, and kidnapping and abduction to compel her to marriage,” the report said.

The report also noted from the NCRB data that from 2017-2019, there has been an increase of 15.55 per cent in the number of crimes against women and children from SC/ST communities. 

The total crimes against women increased from 6,321 in 2017 to 6,800 in 2018 and 7,485 in 2019. 

The sharpest increase has been under the offences of insult to modesty and rape.

While the number of incidents of insult to modesty increased by 50 per cent in this period, rape cases registered an increase of 22.14 per cent. 

Cases related to outrage modesty of women increased by 16.25 per cent and attempt to rape increased by 15.32 per cent. Only incidents of kidnapping to compel one for marriage registered a decline of 47.61 per cent. 


Also read: Dalit women often face sexual violence because of, yes, their caste


High pendency rate

The panel report cited NCRB data to state that the pendency rate of crimes against Dalit women and children in special courts is high for all forms of violence. 

“It is highest for an attempt to rape, and kidnapping and abduction of women to compel for marriage (93.4 per cent), followed by an assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (89.6 per cent), an insult to modesty of women (89.06 per cent) and rape (88.9 per cent),” the report stated.

The report further said the major reason for the increase in crimes against SC/ST women and children in recent years is “due to the poor implementation of the existing laws and the apathetic attitude of the law enforcing agencies”.

“Moreover, the high acquittal rate motivates and boosts the confidence of dominant and powerful communities for continued perpetration,” it added.

The panel recommended that law enforcement agencies should include the provisions of the PoA Act while registering cases of rape, sexual harassment, etc., committed against SC/ST women. 

Under the amended PoA Act, 2018, conduct of a preliminary inquiry before registration of an FIR, or to seek approval of any authority prior to arresting an accused is no longer required.

The panel recommended that the Ministry of Home Affairs should tie up with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to provide housing, livelihood, education facility and safety, including free legal support, for the rehabilitation of the survivors of caste and gender-based violence. 

The panel also recommended that the MHA must make “holistic efforts” towards sensitising public authorities. The MHA along with the Ministry of Education should create awareness through school curriculum to promote gender equality, and eradication of the caste system at a pan-India level.

(Edited by Debalina Dey)


Also read: Sex crimes against SCs/STs rising since 2014, experts say it’s power play


 

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