New Delhi: The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), for the first time in 2014, collected data under the special category of “intent to disrobe” as part of criminal assaults on women. That very year, Odisha recorded the maximum number of cases of “intent to disrobe”– 18% of the nationwide figure of 6,412. In 2015, that figure rose to 23% of all such cases, in 2016 it stood at 22%, reported the Indian Express. The NCRB’s 2016 report shows Odisha has the third highest rate of crimes against women.
Last month, a minor girl was forcibly stripped in public in Bhubaneswar and then a video of this was uploaded on the internet. Similar videos of molestation and stripping in the state have been uploaded on the internet this year and the statistics have taken the state’s police by surprise.
“It is quite surprising to see Odisha lead in this category, but if NCRB is saying, then it may be so,” Dr Sudhansu Sarangi, director, State Crime Records Bureau told the Indian Express, adding, “But the underlying (district) data does not specify if intent to disrobe results in actual disrobement. For example, in a factional fight in a village, someone’s saree was pulled and a case was registered under 354B of IPC.”
The intent to disrobe using criminal force, a cognizable and non-bailable offence, dealt with under Section 354B of the IPC, was added to the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013 after the gang rape of a medical student in Delhi on December 16, 2012.
Y.B. Khurana, police commissioner of Bhubaneswar-Cuttack says that the data shows better reporting by the police, that now has dedicated women units, according to the Indian Express. He however adds that these high figures “need research by sociologists”.
According to the police, in many of the cases, the women who have been targeted were accompanied by men not related to them.
A scholar of gender studies in Odisha, Dr Hiranmayee Mishra says Odisha has been a feudal society and the low cost of smartphones along with low awareness of the ethics of the use of technology as well as the internet have made the state so unsafe for women. “These crimes are a reaction of exposure to technology meeting a feudal, patriarchal mindset.”
The opposition Congress party in the state’s recently concluded assembly session, slammed the government for the growing incidents of crime against women, reported the Times of India. Leader of the opposition Narasingha Mishra, during zero hour, demanded a statement from chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who heads the state home department, on the issue.
Patnaik has said that 93 victims approached the police toll November this year, double of last year’s figure.