Sexual violence against women continues to persist in India, with reported incidents of rape and assault on the rise.
According to the annual crime report released by the Ministry of Home Affairs in India on Thursday, one rape was reported every 15 minutes in 2018 alone, averaging 34,000 reported incidents in total.
The report revealed that while 85% of reported assaults resulted in charges, only 27% of offenders were actually convicted.
Activists and women’s rights groups believe this is because crimes against women aren’t always taken seriously, especially by the police, Aljazeera reported.
“The country is still run by men, one (female prime minister) Indira Gandhi is not going to change things,” the former chief of the National Commission for Women, Lalitha Kumaramangalam said. “Most judges are still men. There are very few forensic labs in the country, and fast-track courts have very few judges.”
While fast-track courts are quicker, they are not equipped to handle a high volume of cases. They already take on more cases than recommended, according to a 2016 study by Partners for Law in Development.
The gang-rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi seven years ago was the first major case to gain national and international attention.
The tragic attack sparked massive protests and civil unrest, which ultimately led to more severe sentences for convicted rapists and murderers. Since then, the number of women and girls being raped and murdered has increased by 35%.
The data in the report is not an accurate estimate of the total number of rapes in 2018, just those reported to the police. For many communities in India, it is considered taboo to report a rape.
But reporting rape is only half the battle.
Several women have been threatened or even killed after reporting their rapes to the police and going to trial. In one instance, a 23-year-old woman was burned alive by a group of men while on her way to court after she accused two men of raping her.
In 2017, a teenager accused former Bharatiya Janata Party state legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar of raping her and attempted suicide the following year when police had ultimately failed to act.
Just months before her rapist’s conviction, the teenager’s family was given a security detail after a truck crashed into the car they were traveling in. While she survived the crash, two of her relatives were killed.