By Ashutosh Mishra
Bhubaneswar: Within a span of less than two months POCSO courts in different parts of the state have awarded death penalty to three persons in cases of rape and murder of minor girls. The punishment will hopefully serve as a deterrent and curb the worrisome trend of rise in such cases.
The increasing vulnerability of women, especially minor girls, to sexual attacks is beginning to take a toll on the state government’s image. Once ranked among the most peaceful states of the country Odisha is now being considered unsafe for the members of the fair sex. There has been alarming increase in crime against women, especially in cases of sexual attacks.
Predators are on the prowl everywhere and the men in khaki appear to be watching the gory trend of rapes and gang-rapes rather helplessly. The vulnerability of minor girls remains extremely high considering that their attackers often happen to be people known to them who they would trust under normal circumstances. In a recent case of alleged rape of a minor girl reported from western Odisha the accused happened to be her own teacher.
The overall increase in rape cases in the state has been quite alarming. Available statistics show that as many as 17,528 cases of rape were reported in the state in the last 10 years. This year alone 937 cases of sexual assault have been registered so far. The number of such cases in 2018 and 2017 was 2,502 and 2,221 respectively.
What is most disturbing is the high incidence of rape of minor girls. At least 4,749 such cases were reported in the state between 2014 and 2017. The number of gang-rapes, too, was quite high during this period with as many as 385 cases registered in different police stations.
These are disquieting statistics, making one reflect on the general slide in moral values on our society. Equally importantly it is also an indication of the sharp decline in the law and order situation in the state. With police unable to pursue cases with required sincerity and urgency the conviction rate has been low which encourages the offenders. Sloppy investigation has been a major factor contributing to the rise in the number of rape cases across the state.
While it is true that women, by and large, have been able to overcome the fear of social stigma and are approaching police stations to report cases of sexual assault resulting in an increase in the number of registered cases, indifferent investigation by the police in most cases is bound to discourage them.
The men in khaki ought to pull up their socks and work more dedicatedly to ensure that the culprits are brought to book. It is only when they take their job seriously can justice be actually done to the victims of such cases. Laws, fortunately, have been made stricter with their deterrence quotient rising but we need a much better conviction rate to put the fear of god into criminals. The sooner it happens the better.
(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)