A subcontinent where some rapes are more equal in attracting public outrage
By Garga Chatterjee
In the great “cosmopolitan” NCR, certain kinds of people find their total freedom to be themselves. The result is quite sad. In the first week of September, an 11 month old baby was raped for two hours in Delhi and then abandoned in bushes by one such freedom seeker. Then in the third week, two women were stabbed to death by their stalkers in two separate incidents. Delhi has long been the rape capital. There cannot be a rape capital without it being the pervert capital. There is something about the NCR that makes it very attractive for perverts and sexual criminals from all over the Indian Union to consider it their ideal place. They feel at home here like nowhere else. Should we be concerned about Delhi? Not really. What we should be concerned about is protecting children and women from Delhi.
In a subcontinent where some rapes are more equal than others in terms of outraged evoked, numbers are always helpful. Whether a rape evokes outrage, social media concerns, poignant solidarity messages, police action, judicial concern and candle light vigils is based on caste, caste, ethnicity and much more, of the victim and the perpetrator(s). Rape brings in the question of individual criminality as well as systemic reasons. What goes largely undiscussed are factors of intersection – intersection of location, power and collective mentalities. This is why the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data is important for every citizen of the Indian Union who want to live in a area safe for women, children and older people to make informed choices about where to live and thrive. The NCRB data can be misused if one uses total number of crimes, since places will have larger number of crimes just due to bigger population. What matters is the crime rate, which is, total number of crimes in comparison to its population. And all the data points to one fact – don’t chose Delhi. There is something very, very wrong about Delhi.
The incidents mentioned above are not cherry picked to “defame” Delhi with regards to crimes against women. On this count, Delhi is already infamous enough. In a recent FirstPost piece (http://www.firstpost.com/india/nyt-writer-leaves-polluted-delhi-to-save-his-children-its-time-for-a-new-capital-of-india-2272914.html ), Sandipan Sharma wrote about the writer who had left Delhi to save his children from pollution. This most polluted city of the world gives impaired lung functions to half of its children. Pollution is not only danger due to which many parents with little children have left Delhi. Many caring parents I have met have chosen other cities over Delhi when their girl child was born or are looking to move out. After all, for many people, earning and jet-setting in “cosmopolitan” style is secondary to many people when compared to the safety of their near and dear one, especially the girl child. The recently published NCRB data shows that in 2015, there were 927 incidents of child rapes reported in Delhi. That is about 3 children being raped per day! NCRB data shows that in 20% of the cases of reported child rape in Delhi, children themselves were perpetrators in 20% of the cases. Delhi’s children are hardly safe around Delhi’s children! Such is the effect of Delhi on children, turning them into perpetrators and making them victims at rates unheard of elsewhere. Rapes of children in Delhi don’t happen from strangers but in 97% of cases, it is people known to them, according to Delhi police data. 22% of the victims are aged below seven years. 38% of the victims are aged between 7 and 12 years. Thus a child in Delhi isn’t safe at home or anywhere. If this was not sick enough, police and child rights activists claim that the actual number is much, much higher. There is no reason to think that the NCR-Delhi region under-reports rapes against children more than any other state. Thus, these numbers are a good estimate of Delhi’s shameful place at the top. If this was not bad enough, Delhi is on the top among all 29 states and seven Union Territories with 37 kidnapping and abduction cases per 100,000 population in 2015. That’s about 29 kidnappings per day. In many of these abductions, the targets are children. Delhi has more abductions than each of large states like West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. How many of these abductions in Delhi involve children are victims? About 60% of Delhi’s total of 7730 cases of abductions in 2015 were of children. Delhi for some is apparently the place for “opportunities”. Among the “opportunities” Delhi provides is also the “opportunity” for sexual criminals to commit their crimes at unbelievable rates. In short, parents who care about their children not being raped or abducted might want to think of the child’s interest when choosing where to live and make their career in this huge subcontinent filled with places where children are much, much safer rather than selfishly exposing minors to constant threat from surroundings. A parent who left Delhi to ensure his children’s wellbeing wrote (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/opinion/sunday/holding-your-breath-in-india.html?_r=1 ) “some feel it is unethical for those who have a choice to willingly raise children here”. He quoted another parent Sarath Guttikunda, who said, ““If you have the option to live elsewhere, you should not raise children in Delhi”. And they were just talking about the pollution and not the chart-topping rates of rape and abduction of children.
On the other end of the spectrum from children are the old. When the young fly high, it’s the older people who often care for the children. But in Delhi, even the old are not spared. Senior citizens are defined as those over the age of 60 years. 2015 NCRB data shows that Delhi is the most unsafe place for senior citizens. It had “won” this infamy in 2014 and has repeated the feat in 2015. Its crime rate against the elderly of 108.8 crimes per 1 lakh elderly population is about 5 times more than the rest of the Indian Union. Delhi’s 2015 crime rate against senior citizens is more than the 2014 rate. Things are getting from very bad to worse.
When the girl children in Delhi grow up to be women, how is it for them? In total numbers, there were 1893 rapes in Delhi in 2015. That is more than 5 per day. Its reported rape rate per 1 lakh population was a whopping 11.6 in 2015. For comparison with another large city, the same rate for Kolkata in 2015 was 0.2. This means in Delhi, a woman is 58 times more likely to be rapes compared to Kolkata! And this is a disease that afflicts the NCR region as a whole. For example, the 2015 rape rate in Faridabad is 9.1, that is 46 times more than Kolkata. Delhi also has the highest number of attempted rapes among megacities. If this were not enough, it is also the stalking capital, with 18% of all stalking cases in the Indian Union! This expands to all kinds of crimes and accounts for the largest number of crimes among all states in the Indian Union. There is not a single category of crime where Delhi’s crime rate is not more than that of Kolkata and most often its many times greater.
Since 1990 and especially so in the previous decade, the central government has built up Delhi, showering it with goods, subsidies and helping make it an employment destination for the rest of the Indian Union. Other cities haven’t received this help — cities where women are less likely to be raped. Delhi is peppered with infrastructure that India’s provinces have toiled hard to pay for. The elite of Delhi and the regional elites who wish to see their children in Delhi in perpetuity have, by dint of their grip on the central government, made a ‘world-class city’ for themselves. By choosing to do this at a location where power, impunity and rape-rates are the highest among cities, they have conspired against their children, parents and women. The inordinate subsidization of the rape capital by the central government has to stop. Subsidizing the rape capital is like creating the best-equipped school in the street with the highest number of child molesters.
This shocking state of affairs is confirmed by no other than the chief of the Delhi Commission for Women who says, “the truth is that Delhi now is not only the rape capital of the world but has also become the stalking capital of the world”. Four years after the “Nirbhaya” case, the number of rapes in Delhi has tripled. Delhi has maintained its top rank in rape rates before, during and after “Nirbhaya”. Delhi is no place to be “Nirbhaya”. Such nomenclatures are good for self-congratulatory posturing. No wonder that the mother of “Nirbhaya” refused this false name and publicly stated her daughter’s real name Jyoti Singh Pandey, for that’s who she really was. It is the place which makes its girl children full of bhay (fright), its seniors abused and its women stalked and raped at rates which other cities cannot even begin to imagine.