Mega cities unsafe for women showing official claims hollow

Rashi Aditi Ghosh/Zee Research Group

The gang rape of 51-year old Danish woman in the capital has brought back focus on the megacities being the hub of crime against women. This puts to shame official claims in regard to efforts having been made to make these cities safer for women.

According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, 15 per cent incidents of crime against women are recorded in ‘Mega Cities’. That is a sizeable percentage since megacities comprise a miniscule of total population of the country.

The term `Mega City’ as per NCRB, refers to cities having population of over 10 lakh (1 million). The number of such cities has increased from 35 in the year 2001 to 53 in the year 2011.

The NCRB report also shows that out of total number rape cases recorded during 2012 mega cities account for 12 per cent of such cases during the year. Post Nirbhaya gang rape in December 2012 Delhi Police claimed to have put in place extraordinary steps to make the city safer for women.

Outlining the diverse population residing in cities, Dr Ranjana Kumari, director of Centre for Social Research said, “Mega cities are prone to crime against women because they have a floating population.” She laid the blame on poor civic infrastructure made worse by poor economic status. “It’s unfortunate that many poor families in mega cities stay in one room that increases sexual starvation of many men and they end up raping woman irrespective of her age,” she reasoned.

Not just young but even middle aged and elderly women are subjected to sexual crimes in mega cities. The report shows that 11 per cent of the rape victims in mega cities are with 30-50 years and 50 years and above age group.

Explaining the psychological perspective, Dr Ripan Sippy, a clinical psychologist from Delhi said, “From my clinical experience I have observed that individuals, who somehow fail to show their power and sexual ability in their peer group, choose either elderly women or children to prove their aggression.”

On May 9 last year, a Parliamentary panel too warned that mega cities could become a "dangerous place" for women and children if government did not take measures in right earnest.

The Committee on Empowerment of Women said the mega cities are turning "safe havens" for criminals despite having the modern police apparatus and suggested that there is a need for sincere effort to overhaul the "tattered policing system" in the country with an aim of giving it a human face.

The panel headed by Rajkumari Ratna Singh urged the government to set up an expert group to study the challenges faced in the form of increasing crime against women and children in mega cities and suggest "practical solutions" in tune with the needs of 21st century.

The 74-page report, noted that 33,789 cases of crime against women were reported from 53 mega cities with over 10 lakh population in 2011 as compared to 24,335 in 2010.

It said Delhi topped the list of the cities accounting for 13.3 per cent cases followed by Bangalore, Hyderabad and Vijayawada. The committee was "astonished" to note that Delhi accounted for 17.6 per cent of rape cases, 31.8 per cent of kidnapping cases and 14 per cent of dowry deaths.