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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: The facade of Odisha a safe place for the fair sex droops down pathetically when the 2018 statistics shows the State had reported as many as seven rapes a day; whereas the 'notorious' Delhi had recorded around five rapes a day.

Sample this: Odisha had recorded 2,502 rape cases in 2018. Delhi has recorded 2,043 rape cases in 2018. While Delhi had reported a marginal drop in rape cases in 2018; Odisha posted a whopping 13 per cent rise in rape cases registered in 2018.

Why Odisha statistically looks worse than Delhi? When involvement of strangers in rapes in Delhi were mere 5.57 per cent, rapes committed by strangers in Odisha stood at a whopping 72 per cent in 2016, reveals the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. While Delhi police claimed the rate dropping down further to mere 2 per cent in 2018, Odisha police is tight lipped on it.

The tragedy is the strangers on prowl make minor girl child their prey in Odisha. The sexual crimes against girl child in Odisha had shown a significant spike in last 5-years in Odisha, reveals the NCRB data. And shocking enough is the child rapes in Odisha had posted a nearly 400 per cent growth during the period 2012- 16, revealed the data.

Significantly, the saving grace for Odisha comes from the fact that while the rate of rape crime in Delhi is around 23, the rate in Odisha is over 11. Rate of rape crime means, number of rapes recorded per lakh women population. This is a vital indicator that reveals the worsening of rape crime against women in a State. Though in the vital indicator Odisha looked far better than Delhi, the nagging fact is the rate of rape crime in Odisha is inching up every year. From around 9 in 2016, the rate of rape crime in Odisha is around 11.1 in 2018. In simple terms, last year as many as 11 females per lakh women population had fallen victim to rapes in Odisha.

The State police and the State government look clueless. The significant fact of evidence is the State police could complete preliminary investigation in mere 37 per cent of cases last year. Under criminal procedure code in India, post filing of FIR (First Information report), police conduct a preliminary inquiry (PI) before filing a charge-sheet in a court of trial. The poor rate of PI shows why the rape cases in Odisha are on the ascent.

The fallout then is this delay in investigation prove tormenting for victims and at times they took extreme step such as suicide. Its only yesterday a gang rape victim from Malkangiri succumbed to her suicide bid made few days ago. Last year, the State had witnessed suicide by rape victim in the much 'infamous' Kunduli gang rape case.

Significantly, Odisha is witnessing around 96 gang rapes per year for the period 2014 -18.  The ghastly crime has posted a swift rise since 2014. In 2012, Odisha had witnessed 67 gangrapes. The figures zoomed notoriously to 109 in 2015. Data with State police show around 90 gangrape cases in 2018.

The State turning a mute spectator is evident from the fact that it's the same over half-a-dozen districts that keep the rape clock ticking fast in Odisha every year, and the State Government has failed to put up any plan to curb the rising sexual crimes in the district.

An analysis shows Mayurbhanj had again topped the 'notorious' list in the State. Around eight other districts that record maximum sexual crimes every year against women are: Koraput, Bhubaneswar (Khurda), Bhadrak-Jajpur, Sambalpur, Rourkela, Sundergarh, Boudh and Ganjam.

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