mid-day editorial: Ensure a fighting chance to get justice

Published: Nov 17, 2016, 09:37 IST | mid-day correspondent

If pictures speak louder than words, so do numbers. Praja Foundation recently released a report that revealed teenagers under the age of 18 accounted for 63 per cent sexual assault survivors

If pictures speak louder than words, so do numbers. Praja Foundation recently released a report that revealed teenagers under the age of 18 accounted for 63 per cent sexual assault survivors. Around 712 rape cases were reported in India last year and, in 2014, the figure stood at 609. Back in 2014, 56 per cent survivors were below 18 years of age.

The report shows that in a span of five years (from 2011-2012 to 2015-2016), the frequency of rape cases has increased by 289 per cent, while molestation cases rose by 287 per cent.

In response to Praja findings, cops have said that awareness has increased and social media has helped fight the menace. Another official said the report reflects how people are now feeling more confident about filing complaints. While the latter may be true, it is disturbing that there is such a humongous jump in the number of complaints filed.

The only positive aspect in the report is the emphasis that the blame lies not with the victim, but the offender. It is also indicative of the fact that cops are registering complaints and the survivors are not facing the lack of enthusiasm that they did earlier. Support groups have been instrumental in creating awareness. More importantly, survivors are now willing to name and shame their attackers, and an increasing number of families have shown that they are not worried about the taboo.

But, the jump in numbers should still be a cause of concern for authorities. Taking solace and covering the truth in statements like “it is easier to complain and hence the rise in numbers” doesn’t cut it anymore. The fight against sexual assault is a multi-pronged one, involving education, awareness, deterrence, laws with teeth, avenues to complain, stringent punishment, an atmosphere conducive to helping survivors and counselling.

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