For the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government, the release of the National Crime Records Bureau statistics has come as a big dampener, especially when the ruling party has launched a dozen of women-centric schemes and bets big on women empowerment.
The shocker is, be it the IPC or SLL crimes, the rate of crime against women in Odisha is more than double the national crime rate against women. With a high of around 113 women per lakh women population in Odisha having registered cases of crime either under IPC or SLL in 2020, the State secures the dubious number 2 rank in the country.
While Assam, which topped the country in the rate of crime against women, had recorded a drop this year, Odisha maintained a rising trend, despite pandemic lockdowns and shutdowns.
Despite stringent restrictions on movement, the rate of crime against women in Odisha had posted a rise in the pandemic year vis-a-vis 2019. In 2019, only 103 women per lakh population had reported crimes against them in Odisha. The count jumped to 112.9 in 2020.
As a consequence, Odisha and West Bengal are the only major states in the country that have clocked a rise in crime against women in the pandemic year (2020).
Is Crime Reporting High In Odisha?
It is often argued that the rise in cases of crime against women doesn't necessarily reflect the rising trend of violence against women. High cases are attributed to more reporting. In Odisha, more women in proportion to their population had registered cases of crime targeting them.
However, a glance at the charge-sheeting rate drops the big clue.
Consider the sample study:
In Odisha, the charge-sheeting rate in crime cases against women stood at 82 per cent in 2020. The charge-sheeting rate in Assam had been 63.8.
In contrast, states like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh had posted a charge-sheeting rate of 91.6 percent, 94.6 percent and 87.7 percent, respectively.
But the corresponding rate of crime against women in the states tells the story.
- Assam --- 154.3
- Odisha ---- 112.9
- Andhra Pradesh --- 65
- Gujarat ---- 24.4
- Chhattisgarh --- 50.7
Rather, the above data shows the higher the charge-sheeting rate, the lower the rate of crime against women. Simply put, timely investigation and law enforcement carry a salutary impact on reining the crime rate against women.
The Horror Show
Name any crime targeting women, Odisha marks a dubious high.
- Gang Rape: Odisha occupies 5th rank among 28 states in the country. The number of gang rape victims in the State zoomed to 20 in 2020 from 3 in 2019. It is the only state to mark a deterioration.
- Acid Attack: The 'Tezaab' tales in State doubled to 6 from 3 in 2019. West Bengal topped the country with 29 victims,
- Kidnapping And Abduction: The number of women/children kidnapped or abducted in Odisha dropped marginally in pandemic year. But the rate per day remained at 10 from 11 in 2019. A total of 3775 females were kidnapped/abducted in the state in 2020 against 3934 in 2019. With a crime rate of 16.7/lakh population, Odisha is third in the country.
- Child Rapes: The year when the case of rape and murder of a minor girl Nayagarh caused tremors in Odisha's political arena. NCRB data shows when the adult rape cases in the State had clocked a decline of 12 per cent, child rapes had increased by over 8 per cent in 2020. Overall, the State record nearly 8 rapes per day. The rise in child rape cases in State measures a deterioration.
- Women Centric Cyber Crimes: Odisha topped the country with a total of 526 cases -a sharp rise from 390 in 2019. The State ranked the dubious second in the circulation of sexually explicit content or simply say sex videos. In online blackmailing, morphing or creating fake profiles, the State tops the country. Nearly, 35 percent of cases nationally had been contributed by Odisha alone.
- The sharp spurt in online crime against women during the pandemic year shows deterioration of women safety in the State. In the time of lockdown, women were targeted online.
- Intent To Outrage Modesty: Odisha with a total of 12641 victims topped the country. In 2019, the topper was Uttar Pradesh. The crime rate (55.8) in Odisha is 4-times the national average. Despite the pandemic year, the State had posted a rise in the rate of crime under this head.
After witnessing a huge hullabaloo over the national high of 542 child pornography cases in 2019, the tally in 2020 shrunk sharply to a mere 33.
Light At The End Of Tunnel?
There seems there is no light at the end of the tunnel for women in Odisha. Because, when 1427 accused persons were acquitted by law courts, only 144 got convicted. The conviction rate in Odisha is only 9.2 per cent - among the top -5 poorest rates in the country. In case pendency rate in the courts, Odisha with 98.9 percent is the second highest in the country.