Crimes against women: Is law and order deteriorating in Karnataka? The numbers speak

Recent cases of crime against women in Karnataka have raised questions over law and order situation. The data on crimes puts doubts to rest.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published May 27, 2024 | 12:18 PMUpdatedMay 27, 2024 | 12:23 PM

Violence against women in Karnataka

“The measure of any society is how it treats its women and children:” A sentiment from Michelle Obama, author and former First Lady of the United States, rings alarmingly true for Karnataka as it confronts a disturbing surge in crimes against women and children.

In recent years, the state has witnessed a stark increase in cases of violence against women and children, including cases of rape, molestation, child abuse and assault on children, highlighting an urgent need for enhanced protective measures and more effective law enforcement.

Also Read: Communalising crimes against women

Statistics on rape, molestation and POCSO reveal a disturbing trend

In the first four months of 2022, Karnataka reported 190 rape cases. This number decreased to 176 cases in 2023, marking a reduction of 7.37 percent but in 2024, the number of rape cases for the same period rose to 191, reflecting an increase of 8.52 percent compared to  the last year.

Reported cases of rape in Karnataka

Yearly comparison of heinous crimes against women in Karnataka from 2022 to 2024

Statistics for the entire year show that reported cases of rape climbed from 550 in 2022 to 606 in 2023 according to Karnataka State Police, indicating a rise of over 10 percent. Similarly, molestation and POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) cases have escalated, underscoring the persistent and growing threat to the safety of women and children in the state.

Dip in reported cases of murder of women

The state has seen a significant decrease in murder cases targeting women over the years. In the first four months of 2022, a total of 143 women were murdered for various reasons. However, it dipped in 2023 with 130 cases reported, a decrease of 9.09 percent. In 2024, the number further decreased to 106 cases, marking an 18.46 percent decrease compared to 2023.

During the 12 months of 2022 and 2023, there were 428 and 393 reported cases, respectively, reflecting an 8.18 percent decrease.

ADGP (Law and Order) R Hitendra points out that in most of these offences, the accused are from the victims’ known circles or loved ones and the conviction rate is around 50 percent.

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Fluctuating trend in molestation cases

Reported cases of molestation in Karnataka show a fluctuating trend with the state reporting 2,326 cases in the first four months of 2024, an increase of 22.82 percent from 2023 (1,894), which was lesser than 1,997 cases registered during the same period in 2022.

Records show that Karnataka recorded 5,764 cases and 6,444 cases of molestation in 2022 and 2023 respectively, reflecting an 11.80 percent increase in registered cases of molestation.

Additionally, the state saw a significant rise in POCSO cases over the years with 839 cases reported in the first four months of 2022, which increased to 890 cases during the same period in 2023, marking a rise of 6.08 percent.

The number surged further to 1,128 cases in the first four months of 2024, marking a steep increase of 26.74 percent compared to 2023. For the entire year of 2022 and 2023, Karnataka recorded 2,582 and 3,274 cases respectively, an increase of 26.81 percent.

These figures underscore a critical need for comprehensive strategies to combat these crimes and protect the vulnerable members of society.

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Domestic violence in Karnataka

Decades after the Dowry Prohibition Act came into existence, dowry-related deaths continue to be a menace in Karnataka. In the first four months of 2022, a total of 50 married women died due to dowry-related issues.

This decreased to 46 during the first four months of 2023, marking an 8 percent reduction in registered cases. On a promising note, it further dipped to 39 in 2024, a 15 percent decrease from 2023.

Meanwhile, reported dowry deaths for the entire years of 2022 and 2023 stood at  177 and 162 cases respectively, reflecting an 8.47 percent decrease. it is important to note that it only denotes a decline in the number of reported cases.

Domestic violence and dowry deaths in Karnataka

Domestic violence – verbal or physical violence perpetrated on a married woman by her husband or his family – saw a significant rise in the past few years. From January to April 2022, there were 1,029 reported cases of brutality inflicted by husbands or their relatives.

This number reduced to 904 cases during the same period in 2023, a 12.14 percent decrease. However, in 2024, the number of cases increased to 1,075, marking an 18.93 percent rise compared to the previous year.

For the full years of 2022 and 2023, a total of 2,995 and 3,163 cases were reported respectively, indicating a 5.60 percent increase.

When it comes to kidnapping cases, there has been some fluctuation. From January to April 2022, there were 62 reported cases. This number decreased to 42 in the same period in 2023, a significant 32.26 percent decline. In 2024, the number slightly increased to 43 cases, a 2.38 percent rise from 2023.

During the 12 months of 2022 and 2023, there were 169 and 148 reported cases, respectively, showing a 12.43 percent decrease.

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Assault and abetment to women’s suicide

While there’s been a notable decline in reported cases of murder of women, cases of assault and abetment of suicide saw an alarming rise.

When it comes to the attempted murder of women, there were 294 reported cases in the first four months of 2022 which decreased to 260 cases in the same period of 2023, marking a decrease of 11.56 percent.

Reported cases of attempt to murder and murder of women in Karnataka

However, it witnessed an increase in 2024, with 270 cases reported, marking a 3.85 percent increase compared to the previous year.

When it comes to the entire years of 2022 and 2023, there were 805 and 853 reported cases respectively, indicating a 5.96 percent increase.

Another concerning trend is the increase in cases of abetment of women’s suicide. In the first four months of 2022, there were 51 reported cases. This number increased to 52 cases in 2023, which increased further to 55 in 2024.

For the full years of 2022 and 2023, there were 156 and 137 reported cases respectively, reflecting a 13.87 percent increase.

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Women face danger from known people: ADGP R Hitendra

Stating the conviction rate in the above-mentioned crimes is over 50 percent, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) R Hitendra said that 98 percent of the accused in offences against women are either known people or loved ones of the victims.

In an exclusive conversation with South First, ADGP (L&O) R Hitendra said, “The number of crimes against women is more or less the same when comparing the last three years. We consider women and children to be vulnerable sections of the society.”

“Murder, rape, and kidnapping are the major crimes committed against women. Women’s safety is the highest priority for the (police) department. We are putting a lot of effort to instil confidence among women,” added ADGP Hitendra.

“Most persons accused in the offences against women are known to them. Friend, father, uncle, husband and other loved ones turn out to be accused,” he said.

“In around 98 percent of the cases, the accused are from the victims’ known circles. This is not a police problem but a societal one,” the ADGP (L&O) said, appealing to women to be more cautious.

Related: Why is there less heinous crime against women in South India?

“Conviction rates stand at 50%”

Talking about the conviction rate, he elaborated: “The conviction rate is around 50 percent in the IPC cases in Karnataka, which is far better than other states. In most cases, especially POCSO, the victim turns hostile, which makes it difficult to pursue the case further.”

“There is a special court for POCSO cases. Similarly, there is a special court for SC/ST cases too. We are stressing a lot on the investigation and trial as well,” stated the ADGP.

When asked about how aware women are about crimes against them, “Awareness levels have gone up among women. But full awareness is yet to come. If reported cases of violence against women increase, it means that awareness level among women has improved.”

He clarified that more reported cases mean more women are coming forward to register complaints. “The rise in reported cases means that women are coming forward to register complaints. Earlier lot of crimes may not have been reported but now it is being reported. Overall, the trend (crimes against women) more or the less remains same,” added the ADGP (L&O)

On the allegations of law and order deteriorating in Karnataka, ADGP Hitendra added: “We don’t agree that law and order is deteriorating in the state. If we see the statistics, the figures are better than last three years.”

“This year, up to April, when compared to the previous year, the figures are better. We will not agree with the allegations,” said the ADGP (L&O).

He also stated that after the two young women were murdered in Hubballi, he has given directions to all the district police heads including city police commissioners to create more awareness and initiate a mass contact programme to fix the communication gap between the police and citizens.

Also Read: Women live more years in ill health than men: Lancet gender gap study

(Edited by Neena)