BHOPAL: Welcome to Macabre Pradesh. Here are the statistics that bring on that epithet:
In just four months since November 2017 — 120 days — as many as 62 women were allegedly gang-raped, 43 women were murdered and at least 10 women burnt alive.
These are statistics tabled in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly during the current budget session. Women and girls continue to be unsafe in Madhya Pradesh despite the legislature passing a bill in December that proposes the death penalty as the maximum punishment for those convicted for raping minors aged up to 12 years.
More gory statistics: 33 minor girls were gang-raped between November 2017 and February 15.
These figures were tabled in response to a query by former minister and senior Congress legislator Dr Govind Singh on Wednesday.
The maximum number of gang-rapes were reported from Ratlam, Dhar and Harda districts. Five women were murdered in Khargone district, four each in Betul and Raisen districts. Of the total 10 women burnt alive, five were in Hoshangabad district, which is adjacent to state capital Bhopal and CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s home district Sehore.
“The trend shows that the efforts by the state government to check cases of crimes against women are more potent on paper and less effective in the ground,” says state Congress spokesperson KK Mishra.
State officials argue that the Shivraj Singh Chauhan government has been proactive. “Particularly in cases pertaining to crimes against minor girls we’ve asked the state police to firmly and promptly deal with cases. Also, the investigations in such cases should be accelerated to endure speedy prosecution and conviction,” says Raghvendra Sharma, chairperson of MP State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
Of the 38,947 rape cases reported in 2016 across the country, Madhya Pradesh reported 4,882 cases followed by Uttar Pradesh with 4,816 cases and Maharashtra with 4,189 cases, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
The State Crime Record Bureau (SCRB) says there were 5,300 rape cases in 2017, which was around 8.5 per cent more than the 4,882 cases reported in the state during 2016.
“We need proper security for girls and women, but how can we get it when large part of police department’s human resource is being deployed to give security to netas and babus? We often say there are enough CCTVs and other equipment to monitor security but hardly question whether those installed are actually functional or not. The police alone cannot deal with this. There needs to be a change in the mindsets of men and in families,” says women rights activist Upasana Behar.