It’s Women’s Day, but on the ground, little has changed

by Bushra Ansari and Sowmya Rajaram | 15 April, 2024
It’s Women’s Day, but on the ground, little has changed
Author Bushra Ansari and Sowmya Rajaram | Published: 15 April, 2024
It’s Women’s Day, but on the ground, little has changed

It hasn’t been a good week for women in India. When a 28-year-old Spanish-Brazilian vlogger was gangraped in Jharkhand, US journalist David Josef Volodzko posted on social media about India being an unsafe country for women. To this, the National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma responded, accusing him of “vilifying” India. She then purported to respond with “statistics” and “data” (sans sources) that “over 6 million tourists arrive in India every year, many of them are single women, and they holiday safely.” So let’s look at what the data actually says.

As per the Women Peace and Security Index 2023 released by Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, India ranks 128 out of 177 countries in terms of women’s inclusion, justice, and security.

The latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reveals that the rate of crimes against women in India (calculated as crimes per 100,000 of the women population) increased by 12.9% between 2018 and 2022. In India, the reported crimes against women per 100,000 women population is 66.4 in 2022, in comparison with 58.8 in 2018. This increase could be due to a number of factors, including an increase in actual crimes, an improvement in reporting mechanisms, and a growing willingness of women to speak out about their experiences of violence.

The latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reveals that the rate of crimes against women in India

The statistics in “Crime in India 2022”, the annual report by NCRB, show that a total of 13 States and Union Territories recorded crime rates higher than the national average of 66.4. Delhi topped the list at 144.4 ,followed by Haryana (118.7), Telangana (117), Rajasthan (115.1), Odisha (103.3), Andhra Pradesh (96.2), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (93.7), Kerala (82), Assam (81.2), Madhya Pradesh (78.8), Uttarakhand (77), Maharashtra (75.1), and West Bengal (71.8). The rate of crime in Uttar Pradesh — which contributed nearly 15 percent of the cases in India — stood at 58.6.

crimes against women in India

“India takes the safety of women very seriously, evidenced by its implementation of stringent laws over time,” Sharma said in her response. Yet, despite the enactment of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005), the majority of crimes against women under the Indian Penal Code were of cruelty by the husband or his relatives (31.4 per cent). This was followed by kidnapping and abduction of women (19.2 per cent), assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (18.7 per cent), and rape (7.1 per cent), NCRB records state.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development irrigation in agriculture accounts for 70% of water use worldwide

There is more. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the crime rate per 100,000 women population jumped from 56.5 in 2020, to 64.5 in 2021. A number of factors could have contributed to this, including reverse migration, social isolation, and economic strain. These factors can aggravate existing tensions within households and create additional stressors, leading to increased violence.

A lack of economic independence further cripples women’s ability to protect themselves from abuse and harassment. Despite legal frameworks, most women are not entitled to a share in property, due to established social norms. Also, women’s participation in the labour force is mostly in the informal economy, which gives them little access to social protection.

In the workplace too, women face a higher risk of gender violence. Data tells us that women’s quest for financial independence actually seems to augment their risk of facing harassment within professional settings. This, despite the existence of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013 (commonly known as POSH Act). As per NCRB, the victim count for workplace sexual harassment against women has increased from 402 in 2018 to 422 in 2022. This is cause for concern, because it is well-established that women actually under-report crimes against them due to fear of repercussions, inadequate awareness, and societal biases.

Globally too, Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is a serious and pervasive issue. According to the World Health Organization, at least one in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, and nearly one in 10 girls has experienced forced intercourse or other sexual acts.

Tracking victim count

In India, this is exacerbated by entrenched gender bias and patriarchal social norms, which allow women little agency, and prevent them from reporting crimes against them for fear of repercussions. So, what can we do?

We need a systemic change, which can only happen through a multi-faceted approach. Gender-transformative approaches can be implemented via childhood education and household- and community-level interventions. Innovative methods such as gameplay can be used to involve both men and women in gender equality initiatives. Other methods include changing cultural attitudes, reforming policy and law, increasing support services for survivors, and conducting more information campaigns, workshops, and training programmes, and designing intervention programmes based on data.

Initiatives such as Government of India’s One Stop Centre (OSC) scheme (launched in 2015) help by providing a range of integrated services under one roof including police facilitation, medical aid, legal aid and counselling, psycho-social counselling, and temporary shelter to women affected by violence or in distress. Currently, 752 OSCs are operational across India, which have assisted over eight lakh women. Civil societies, SPOs, ASHA workers, SHGs, religious/faith-based institutions, and government initiatives can also play a vital role in raising awareness about gender-based violence through social gatherings and networking sites. These entities can raise awareness through educational campaigns, community outreach, and media engagement. They operate by organising workshops, leveraging social media, and collaborating to address gender-based violence and promote a culture of respect and equality.

VAWG has serious social, economic, and cultural implications. it has been linked to higher rates of poverty, poor health outcomes for women and their children, and lower levels of education and economic participation. Discussing VAWG in India is the first step to addressing it, and we must let the data and evidence guide us toward implementing solutions that create a safer and more equitable society for women.

Bushra Ansari is a Data Analyst, and Sowmya Rajaram is a Communications professional at ISDM DataSights, a singular online data hub under the umbrella of the Indian School of Development Management (, which hosts comprehensive data, knowledge assets and tools for analytics and research on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

You May Also Read

Demystifying Data: Maternal Healthcare
Demystifying Data: Maternal Healthcare
Plunging Depths: The Looming Threat of Groundwater Depletion in Agricultural Heartlands
Plunging Depths: The Looming Threat of Groundwater Depletion in Agricultural Heartlands
Demystifying Data: A Gendered Lens on Time-Use Patterns
Demystifying Data: A Gendered Lens on Time-Use Patterns
Admission open for PGP-DM