In the year that followed the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old photojournalist inside the derelict Shakti Mills compound, the city witnessed a sharp rise in rape cases registered with the police.
The police, however, insist that this should be attributed not to an actual rise in the number of crimes, but an increased awareness about the crime, which has prompted more women to break free from the fear of taboo and report cases of sexual violence to the police. While 225 rape cases were registered between January and August in 2013 (207 detected), 352 have been filed in the same duration this year (305 detected).
Also read: Shakti Mills gang-rape: The timeline
That’s an increase of over 100 cases. Explaining this rise, DCP of Mumbai Police (crime detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni said, “There has been an increase in statistics of rape cases, as women are nowadays coming forward and making complaints. The women are more aware and are speaking out.”
Kulkarni added that officers are being trained to register cases properly, while ensuring that survivors and complainants do not face harassment of any kind. “There have been amendments made to the law dealing with rape. We have explained this to officers and they have been trained well to register such cases.
There is also a new law in place for sexual offences against children, and officers have been trained well to implement it. There are women officers in every police station, who guide, help and reassure any woman who comes to register a complaint.”
Other police officers said that a women’s cell has been created at every police station, so women have a space in which to share and air their concerns. Following the dastardly crime at the run-down Shakti Mills compound, the Mumbai Police have identified 721 isolated or abandoned spots, where cops have been deployed for patrolling.
Kulkarni added, “Unlike the Shakti Mills gang-rape case, most rapes are committed by neighbours, relatives, friends mostly people known to the victim. Crime does not happen in one instant. Friends and parents, especially of minor girls, should be aware and alert every moment.”
He added that in cases of sexual offence, there is always an identifiable starting point, when the perpetrator approaches his target, and then gradually narrows in on her. He urged women not to ignore unwanted sexual advances, but to confide in close friends and family members, adding that they should not shy away from lodging police complaints. “One should speak out,” he urged.