Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Alarming times for the girl child in Odisha! In a span of only 7 years, the rapes of minors have clocked an eye-popping 645 per cent. The statistics look ominous. Now, minor rapes in Odisha constitute a whopping over 50 per cent of total rapes vis-a-vis mere 13 per cent in 2012.

Replying to a query on women safety, MoS Divyashankar Mishra has reeled out such gory statistics. And as per the data, in the first six months (Jan - Jun) of the current calendar year, Odisha has seen registration of 1,149 rape cases. The minor rapes constituted a massive 604 cases or 52 per cent of the total rapes.

The statement further reveals that total number of minor rapes in 2018 were a high of 57 per cent of the total. And as per NCRB 2017 report, minor rapes in Odisha constituted a massive 62 per cent of the total rapes.

In contrast, NCRB data shows, total minor rapes in the year 2012 was a mere 13 per cent of total rape victims. By the year 2015, the number of rape victims below 18 years constituted a whopping 47 per cent of total rape victims in Odisha.

When rapes overall in State showed a rise of around 74 per cent during 2012 – 2018, rapes of girl child shows  an elephantine growth of a  shocking 645 per cent during the same period.

When child rapes in Odisha didn’t follow the urban-rural divide, is the lack of faster trial and poor conviction of perpetrators proving the major factor behind the high spurt? Statistics speak so.

As per data with State Home Department, the number of cases pending in 2012 was 543. It had grown to over 1,500 in 2015 and the number of rape cases pending for trial stood at over 3000.

Moreover, as per the information provided by MoS Mishra in State Assembly, in year 2018, when only 197 were convicted, 876 got acquitted. The conviction rate is mere 18 per cent. Interestingly, the conviction rate was 23 per cent in 2012.

So, when 82 per cent get acquittals, there is a little chance of the sexual offence cases in the State would ever post a dip.

The bottom line is for powers that be, it's high time to review the current approach. And significantly, when CM Naveen Patnaik recently in State Assembly has made an impassioned plea not to politicise crimes against women, the onus lies with the State government to revamp the state apparatus that deals with the entire gamut of woman safety.