NCRB States Kolkata is the Safest City for Women. But Do Women Feel Safe Anywhere in India?


NCRB States Kolkata is the Safest City for Women. But Do Women Feel Safe Anywhere in India?

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

As headlines over the last few months have proved, India is one of the scariest places in the world to be a woman. Incidents of rape and sexual harassment unfortunately are both on the rise, and a menace that’s never been taken seriously enough by politicians or those in charge of law and order.

Amid this crisis, the National Crime Records Bureau released last week, a ranking of the safest places in the country to be a woman. Topping the list is Kolkata, which has recorded the lowest number of sexual assaults in 2019 — 14 cases in total.

The data further says that all complaints lodged in the city came from women above the age of 18, and that there had been no attempt to rape, or sexual harassment cases filed in that year. The Kolkata administration has said this low figure can largely be attributed to better policing and a more aware populace.

Following close on Kolkata’s heels, according to the report, were Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, which recorded one case of sexual assault, and Patna in Bihar, which recorded 13 cases of assault in 2019.

On the other end of the spectrum, however, was Uttar Pradesh, which has recorded 59,853 crimes against women in the last year alone, a staggering margin. Next in line was Rajasthan, which registered 41,550 cases and Maharashtra, with 37,144 cases.

Among the cities, however, capital Delhi topped the list from the other side, recording 12,902 crimes against women alone, while Mumbai, which is generally considered to be a safe city, recorded an astounding 6,519 cases of assault and rape.

While the report is both alarming for some parts of the country and encouraging for others, the NCRB figures should ideally be taken with a pinch of salt, considering the report only takes into account cases that are registered with the police.

And as we’ve learnt, the police are often the first hurdle for a woman who wants to report assault, considering many officers don’t take these complaints seriously enough. A large number of women, on the other hand, are worried about approaching the police in the first place, either due to pressure from their families or society in general.

Then there is also the fact that very few of these cases end in conviction. As the Times of India points out, this figure is lower than 30 per cent in most parts of the country.

So even as Kolkata is being hailed as a bastion for women’s safety this week, it’s clear looking at figures from other states, and conviction rates, that our country has a long way to go before any city or state can be deemed truly safe for women.