J&K witnesses steady increase in crimes against women

J&K witnesses steady increase in crimes against women

A minor girl was allegedly raped by a 29-year-old man in Bemina area on the outskirts of Srinagar city on March 19 when she was on her way to an Islamic seminary. A couple of months ago, a minor girl was allegedly kidnapped and raped by a 30-year-old man. Earlier, the same man had allegedly molested another girl in Palhalan area of North Kashmir’s Pattan town.

In December last year, a hearing and speech impaired minor was allegedly raped in the mountainous district of Doda in Jammu division. Taking advantage of her disability, a neighbour barged into her house and raped her before fleeing from the scene.

Another mentally and physically challenged minor girl was raped by a neighbour in south Kashmir’s Shopian district in June 2012. The neighbour of the victim forced himself on the hapless girl taking advantage of her disability.

In June 2012, a five-year-old girl was raped by a 14-year-old boy in central Kashmir’s Budgam district. The list goes on and incidents are from different parts of the state.

These aren’t isolated incidents in Jammu and Kashmir. Though exact details about the number of minor rape cases are not available, statistics reveal that crime against women, especially against minor girls, is on the rise in the conflict-ridden state.

The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data suggests that rape on minors in J&K is on the rise. According to the NCRB, 13 child molestation and rape cases were registered in Jammu and Kashmir in 2012.

Eight cases of molestation and rape on minors were registered during 2010 while the number was nine and 11 in 2011 and 2012 respectively, it said.

Only one rape accused has been convicted during the last four years in the state. The NCRB says 32 and 38 cases were pending at the end of 2011 and 2012 respectively. Crime against women is rarely reported in Kashmir.

According to the police, only 10 per cent of cases are reported. On most occasions, complaints are filed days after the incident as victims do not info­rm the ordeal to parents immediately.

A senior police officer told Deccan Herald that in conservative Kashmiri society a girl’s virginity is very important and peo­ple are scared to make rape public. “But as incidents are increasing, victims families have started speaking up, risking dishonour in order to bring justice,” he said.

During a high-level meeting last year, the Jammu and Kashmir government had, in principle, agreed to  incorporate a provision for awarding capital punishment to those convicted of raping a minor or gang rape. However, the final decision on amendment to the existing law, hasn’t been taken yet.

On December 31, 2013, a fast track court in Jammu awarded death penalty to a man convicted of the rape of a seven-year-old girl in 2010. The fast track court, headed by District and Sessions Judge Sanjiv Gupta, sentenced to death Shankar, a resident of Madhya Pradesh.

Hilal Bhat, local child protection expert and a writer, says there is an urgent need to make laws child-friendly. “Laws need to be updated as per changes in society. Changes need to be done at multiple levels,” he told Deccan Herald.

Bhat said supportive response from the family can help the victim to cope with the trauma. “Studies have found children who received supportive response following disclosure had less traumatic symptoms and were abused for a shorter period of time than children who did not receive support. In general, children need support and stress-reducing resources after disclosure of sexual abuse. Negative social reactions to disclosure have been found to be harmful to the survivor’s well being,” he said.

According to the local newspaper reports, various districts in Jammu and Kashmir during 2011-12 registered 578 cases of rape.

The figures revealed a shocking trend with capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar witnessing the highest number of rapes. Jammu tops the list with 39 cases in 2012 and 35 in 2011 followed by Rajouri (32 and 34), Udhampur (30 and 14) and Srinagar district (13 and 19).

A Srinagar-based human rights activist Idrees Ul Haq Beigh says if the trend of child rape continues time is not far when J&K state would be called a crime hub.

“The most alarming aspect of the crime situation in the state is the unpre­cedented increase in crimes against women in 2012 with 303 rape, 1,322 molestation and 373 abetment to suicide cases, besides eight dowry deaths reported, as against 277 rape, 1,194 molestations, 369 abetment to suicides and 11 dowry deaths in 2011,” he said. 

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