Crime against women and children: Mumbai keeps getting more dangerous

According to a report published by the NGO Praja Foundation, the city saw a 13 percent rise in rape cases in the financial year 2019-20 when compared to the previous year's corresponding figures. The report also stated that of the 1,016 rape cases registered last year, over 622 were booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, reflecting the sorry state of women's safety in the city. In a bid to prevent the sexual abuse of children, there is a need to create awareness, said Nitai Mehta, Founder and Managing Trustee, Praja Foundation.

In the financial year 2019-20, over 904 cases of rape were reported while the corresponding figures of the previous year had 784 rape cases. There has been a spurt of 13 per cent in rape cases, while molestation cases also saw a rise from 2,533 in 2018-19 to 2,677 in the last financial year, showing a steep spurt.

The report also stated that sexual assault on children which comes under the POCSO Act has had an alarming constitution with over 61 per cent of victims were below the age of 18 years. In 2019, over 1,431 underage children had reported crime under the POCSO Act, wherein 628 and 710 children were subjected to rape and sexual assault respectively.

The NGO's trustee Nitai Mehta is of opinion that children should be educated about the good touch and bad touch, which will only increase awareness. "In 97 per cent of POCSO rape cases, offenders were known to the victim. Meanwhile, in 54 per cent cases, rape offenders were friends, who committed crimes on the pretext of marriage while 21 per cent of cases were of other known offenders," added Mehta.

Even as the crimes against women and children are on the rise, the conviction and acquittal rates in these cases paint a depressing picture. The last financial year saw a thriving conviction rate of 31 per cent for crimes against women, while the acquittal was as high as 69 per cent. A similar picture was painted in POCSO cases which had a 46 per cent conviction and 54 per cent acquittal rate.

In an alarming jump in crimes against women and children in the last five years, there has been a spurt of 24 per cent in rape cases and 25 per cent in molestation, as mentioned in the report.

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