Source: Business Standard


Gender inequality shows its ugliest face in crimes against women. Though the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) publishes annual data on crimes relating to rape, dowry deaths, molestation, cruelty by husband and relatives and so on, the truth is that many violations go unreported and remain invisible.


The three largest categories of registered crimes against women are cruelty by husband and relatives, molestation and rape — even as all have seen high increases over time, their relative shares have changed dramatically over the last 15 years. Since 1995, when NCRB started collecting information on these categories, the number of cases registered of cruelty by husbands and relatives has increased three-fold, accounting for more than half of all registered crimes against women in 2010. On the other hand, registered cases of molestation have had the slowest growth, its share in total crimes against women coming down to 23 per cent from 34 per cent in 1995.


Looking at state-wise data, the two states that contribute the most to the overall registered cases of crime against women are Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal respectively, each with about 12-13 per cent of total cases. Incidentally, both the states account for about seven per cent of India’s population each. They are followed by the most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, with around 17 per cent of India’s population, accounting for nine per cent of total registered cases of crimes against women. (Click here for chart) 


Crime Heads1995 2000 2005 2010 
Rape13,75416,496 18,359 22,172 
Dowry death  4,648 6,995  6,7878,391 
Molestation 26,856 32,940 34,175 40,613 
Sexual harassment 4,689 11,024 9,984 9,961 
Cruelty by husbands and relatives28,579 45,77858,31994,041
Importation of girls       64     149     36
Total Cases78,5261,13,2971,27,7731,75,214 

Source: NCRBs

The NCRB reports incidence of crimes against women as a ratio per lakh of population. Looking at this indicator, Tripura stands way above the other states registering about 46 cases of crime against women per lakh population. This is followed by Assam, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Kerala registering more than 25 cases per lakh population. Also, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Orissa have more than 20 cases of crimes against women recorded per lakh population in 2010. At the other end of the table, Lakshadweep registers the lowest crime rate against women in the country. States that record less than 10 cases of crimes against women per lakh of population are Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Goa, Manipur, Daman and Diu, Sikkim and Nagaland, a group with diverse socio-economic profiles.


Inter-state comparisons are rendered difficult for many reasons since many cases go unregistered and women are afraid of approaching the police or the courts for justice. So it is difficult to say whether a lower rate of crimes against women makes for a safer state. Take for instance Uttar Pradesh. It has the third largest number of registered cases of crimes against women, lower than Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal and its large population brings the rate of crime down to similar levels as Puducherry. Official data, thus, can tell only part of the story.


In the end, violence against women is a global phenomenon and a complex one. Surveys reveal that the probability of a victim seeking help does not increase with education or wealth. This is, as the United Nations states, one of the most pervasive human rights violations and one that is least prosecuted.


Indian States Development Scorecard, a weekly feature by Indicus Analytics, focuses on the progress in India and across the states across various socio-economic parameters.