Mumbai: More than 5,600 women – most in the age category of 18-25 years – went missing in Maharashtra in the first three months of the year, data from the State Women’s Commission show.
In January 1,600 women left their homes without telling anyone, in February 1,810, and in March 2,200, the chairperson of the commission, Rupali Chakankar, told The Free Press Journal on Monday, calling it a matter of “deep concern”.
70 women in the 18-25 age group run off
“Such cases are increasing day by day. This is a matter of deep concern,” she said.
About 70 women in the 18-25 age group walk out on their families every day, the data show.
From 2020 onwards Maharashtra has had the maximum number of missing women in the country, Chakankar said.
More women in rural areas are reported missing than in urban areas, the data show.
Retired IPS officer Prem Krishan Jain said there are four main reasons why a woman chooses to disappear: A love affair with someone from outside their caste or community; strict restrictions at home; harassment from brothers and sisters-in-law after the parents have died; a desire to do something in life.
Jain said families often know the reason behind the women’s disappearance, but are wary of revealing it to the police.
Some women fall prey to human traffickers
Some women also fall prey to human traffickers, he said.
“Nowadays more people are getting married to persons of their choice,” a serving police officer said, requesting anonymity.
“If a girl wants to marry a person of her choice, and there is opposition from parents, she will sometimes leave her home to be with her lover,” he said.
“If a girl below the age of 18 goes missing, the police will register a case of kidnapping,” another officer said, requesting anonymity.
“On the other hand, if she is above 18, then a ‘missing person’ case is registered. If an adult woman has left her home of her own volition and married an adult man, there is nothing that we can do legally,” he said.
Anshu Khanna, president of a non-profit called ‘Maharashtra Mass India’, said parents must be more communicative with their daughters. “NGOs can organise counselling sessions with psychologists and the police to educate parents and young women,” she said.
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