Uttar Pradesh Leads Nation In Custodial Rape Cases, NCRB Data Reveals

Uttar Pradesh Leads Nation In Custodial Rape Cases, NCRB Data Reveals

UP accounts for a staggering 92 out of 270 reported incidents nationwide over the past five years, according to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

BISWAJEET BANERJEEUpdated: Saturday, March 02, 2024, 05:35 PM IST
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Representational image | IANS

Uttar Pradesh has emerged as a troubling epicenter of custodial rape cases, accounting for a staggering 92 out of 270 reported incidents nationwide over the past five years, according to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). This revelation underscores a deeply concerning trend within law enforcement and the justice system.

Expressing profound concern, Lenin Raghuvanshi of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) remarked, "This is an alarming trend where custodians themselves exploit women incarcerated in prisons, taking advantage of their access to women prison cells. Sometimes, they resort to threats to coerce women prisoners into sexual favors, leaving them traumatized and, in some cases, impregnated."

Custodial rape cases, falling under section 376(2) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), involve sexual assault perpetrated by individuals in positions of authority, including police officers, public servants, armed forces personnel, jail staff, and hospital employees. This section specifically addresses instances where the perpetrator abuses their power to assault a woman in custody.

The NCRB data reveals Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of rape in custody cases, with Madhya Pradesh following closely with 43 cases during the same period. Despite a declining trend in cases year by year - 89 cases in 2017, 60 in 2018, 47 in 2019, and 29, 26, and 24 in 2020, 2021, and 2022 respectively - the overall prevalence remains deeply concerning.

Human rights activists attribute these heinous crimes to the lack of sensitivity and accountability within the law enforcement system. This alarming trend extends beyond Uttar Pradesh, as recent cases in Bengal have brought similar instances to light, prompting the Supreme Court and High Court in Kolkata to establish a committee to address the issue.

Addressing a specific concern, the Calcutta High Court was urged to restrict the entry of male employees of correctional homes into the enclosure of women prisoners, amidst rising incidents of pregnancies among female inmates during their custody inside prisons.

Tapas Kumar Bhanja, appointed by the Supreme Court to evaluate the situation in West Bengal's jails, emphasized the urgency of the matter, stating, "Women are being sexually assaulted in custody. As recently as in early 2020, over a dozen incarcerated women I interviewed in West Bengal told me privately that they were all assaulted in custody and became pregnant."

Kiran Bains, representing the NGO Apajita working for women's empowerment, stressed the role of patriarchal social norms, inadequate gender-sensitivity training for law enforcement personnel, and victim-blaming attitudes in perpetuating custodial rape. Bains called for a victim-centric approach, urging legal reforms, enhanced training programs, and institutional changes to address systemic shortcomings.

Highlighting the challenges victims face in reporting custodial rape, Lenin Raghuvanshi emphasized the importance of holding perpetrators, including police officers, accountable for their actions to ensure justice for survivors.

Despite a 61% increase in women inmates over the past 15 years, India's jails remain ill-equipped to address their safety needs, representing only 48.18% of the national population. Stakeholders stress the need for legal reforms, comprehensive training programs, and collaborative efforts involving government agencies, NGOs, civil society organizations, and community groups to combat custodial rape effectively and create a safer and more just society for all.

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