The shocking rape incident of a 12-year-old girl by an 18-year-old boy last week at Diamond 1 building Royal palms, Goregaon, raises serious questions about the safety of women in Mumbai. After committing the rape, the accused had thrown the victim from 12th floor of the building which is just about 500 metres from singer and anchor Vanndana Vaadera‘s residence. Vanndana’s house help’s employer had seen the boy throwing the victim’s body. The boy was apprehended by the police. Vaadera said that since it is Mumbai, such news get suppressed. If the incident had occurred in Delhi, it would have hit headlines in the media.
Social activist Abhijeet Rane said, “Parents of both girl and boy are to be blamed for this incident. They must monitor their activities. Parent’s responsibility increases as they should be aware about whom their children are meeting and how many times.”
“Parents must provide counseling to their children. Allegations were made against the boy for pushing the girl from the 12th floor. Since the boy and girl were good friends, their friendship turned into love. Even the boy was young and immature. This incident could have been averted if both the children’s parents had given proper attention to their wards,” he added.
The watchman of the society was heard saying “Woh ladki hi aisi thi (The girl was like that)” and blamed the girl for the incident. If a 12-year old girl is seen speaking with boy then she is considered as a loose character. Vanndana said that if such is the scenario then she would have been considered as the worst character amongst all women/girls/ and ladies as 90 per cent of her friends are male. She expressed concern about such crimes occurring in posh localities of Mumbai but no media coverage is being given.
Anjali Sinha, a Mumbai resident told the newspaper, “While Delhi is in news everyday with instances of crime against women and children, we felt Mumbai is one safe city for girls. However, the spine-chilling incidents are a reality-check and the government must take a strong step against the accused. The financial capital should not become another national capital where every girl will be frightened to step out of her house alone.”
Crimes against women have already seen an enormous increase in the city in five financial years starting 2013-2014, according to a white paper released by non-profit organisation Praja. Cases of rape increased by 83 per cent and those of molestation by 95 per cent from 2013-2014 to 2017-2018, the white paper stated. The data was compiled from replies given to queries under RTI. The biggest increase in rape cases was in South Mumbai (172 per cent) while molestation cases rose the highest in North Mumbai (186 per cent) during the five years period.
The posh areas of South Mumbai which includes Worli, Byculla, Colaba and Malabar Hill saw the biggest rise in rape cases (172 per cent) from 2013-2014 to 2017-18. Whereas North Mumbai comprising Dahisar, Borivali and Malad (W) witnessed the biggest increase in cases of molestation (186 per cent) during the same period. Cases of child sexual abuse under the POCSO Act rose by 19 per cent between 2015-16 and 2017-18.
Advocate Majeed Memon stated, “Rape incidents are increasing in Mumbai due to the ineffectiveness of police and the failure of the criminal laws. The offenders are being encouraged because the legal system is very slow. These factors are responsible for the increase in crime against women.”
Memon further added, “Registered cases must be fast-tracked and the investigation should wind up within two to four weeks. The trial should wind up in three months.”
According to the activists, the rise in number of rape and molestation incidents could be due to the result of more women coming forward to register complaints. Mumbai police spokesperson DCP Manjunath Singhe said that the increase in registration of cases showed the police were being seen as people-friendly. For addressing the rise in rape cases, Praja has recommended that gaps in sanctioned and available strengths of the police force be filled as well as the slots for permanent public prosecutors besides training and sensitisation of cops and an awareness campaign on child sexual abuse.