A MINOR was gang-raped in Kurukshetra allegedly by her friend’s cousin along with his four accomplices on February 24. A few days earlier in Hisar, five youths reportedly ravaged a 17-year-old sportsgirl who was being blackmailed with her semi-clad photo by one of the accused. Last October, a case was registered of a minor girl allegedly abducted from her house after the administration of an intoxicant and gang-raped in Palwal district by three men. The general pattern of these recent gang-rapes reflects a frightening picture. The common thread of the accused being known to the victims running through most such cases renders women vulnerable and unsafe everywhere. It smacks of a society and culture that are still immersed in oppressively patriarchal mores that scoff at sentiments such as respect for a woman’s agency.
Haryana’s statistics put the state to shame. As per the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau showing the figures for 2019, Haryana recorded 159 gang-rapes, with 1.17 cases per lakh population. This is the second highest in the country, after Rajasthan. In rapes under all categories, four cases were reported daily with 1,480 cases being filed, showing a rise of 14.2 per cent from the previous year. Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, there is an increase of 68.9 per cent, indicating a steep rise in minors being sexually preyed upon.
Significantly, the offender was known to the rape victim in 97 per cent cases. Making matters worse is the low conviction rate in crimes against women. In Haryana courts, it was just 16.1 per cent, as per the NCRB report. The absence of swift action emboldens the predators to repeat offences. With 49 cases involving repeat offenders, the second highest in the country — after Madhya Pradesh — and 308 cases of repeated rape on the same women, Haryana finds itself in another disgraceful position. Even as the struggle for a safe environment for women is grim and arduous, the rising numbers of families standing by their girls and calling out the predators who have abused and violated them is an encouraging trend.