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  • Writer's picturePratik Gavhane, Jatin Terde & Siddhesh Zadey

Crimes Against Women in India- An ASAR Data Story

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

Crimes Against Women in India

An ASAR Data Story

By ASAR Blogs Team

Calculations & Visualizations

Pratik Gavhane, Jatin Terde & Siddhesh Zadey

Ideation & Drafting

Siddhesh Zadey

Review & Editing

Madhav Bansal & Surabhi Dharmadhikari

“Not all men practice violence against women but all women live with the threat of male violence every single day. All over the Earth.” - Fuad Alakbarov

As the largest and one of the most diverse democracies with an emerging economy, while India is moving ahead to lead the world in several ways, there are some areas where we don't do well. With a population of over 600 million women (15% of the global women population) India ranks 22nd from the bottom on the Women, Peace and Security Index. The silent pandemic of violence against women in India is quite well known. There is significant anguish among people, at least against certain forms of violence such as rapes and acid attacks among others. In large parts, this righteous anguish is fuelled by specific instances of violence aggressively covered in the news. Mostly, the popular news media are effective at covering the ‘outliers’ - atypical examples that catch the public eye - and initiating outrage-driven activism. However, that approach can only bring enough change and contributes little to larger social problem solving.

Complementary to the media-led-activism’s outlier-based approach is the approach taken by researchers and policymakers - looking at ‘averages’ - the commonly occurring examples that represent the larger population. Under this approach, violence is looked upon as a complex epidemiological and social problem. In fact, violence epidemiology is an emerging field of research that can transform world peace and safety. This approach can help solve chronic systemic problems.

Violence against women is a global systemic problem. Crimes are the legally-recognized severe forms of violence. Each year, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports collected data on various forms of crimes, suicides and accidental deaths. While it has received some criticism for its incompleteness and under-reporting, this is an important data source useful for getting a birds-eye view of the nation’s crime epidemiology - a small chunk of the broader violence.

This ASAR Data Story looks at the epidemiology of crimes against women in an attempt to go away from outliers towards the averages. Our aim is to make a case for crimes against women as a systematic problem and to initiate data-based advocacy.

We used the crimes against women data from NCRB 2020 and created women population estimates using the WorldPop data.

1. How do rates (per 1,00,000 women) of total crimes against women vary across districts?

3,05,240 cases of crimes against women were recorded in India in 2020 as per NCRB making the average rate to be 53 per 1,00,000 women. However, the rates vary across districts (Figure 1).

2. Which are the 10 most and least safe districts based on total crime rates?

When considering total crime rates, the top 10 least safe districts include (Figure 2):

However, there were several districts which also reported zero crimes against women including: Peren, Longleng, Tamenglong, Pherzawl, Kamjong, Tawang, Kra Daadi, Anjaw, Ukhrul, and Tuensang. Whether the crimes were truly null or whether the reporting was null is debatable and only points to how important it is to have reliable data reporting mechanisms.

3. How do rates (per 100,000 women) of rape against women vary across districts?

24,073 rapes against women were recorded in India in 2020 as per NCRB making the average rate to be 4 per 1,00,000 women. However, the rates vary across districts (Figure 3).

It is important to note that several countries including India suffer from grave under-reporting of sexual violence due to several reasons ranging from personal shame, societal stigma, fear of further exploitation and discrimination, and risk of losing livelihood, among others. Previously, an analysis has suggested that the extent of under-reporting is as high as 99%. Under-reporting varies across districts and that specific to rapes is not known. Grossly, it could be that the ‘true’ rate of rapes was somewhere around 400 rapes per 1,00,000 women.

4. Which are the 10 most and least safe districts based on rape rates?

When considering the rate of rapes against women, the top 10 least safe districts include (Figure 4):

However, there were several districts which also reported zero crimes against women including: Serchhip, Kohima, Longleng, Mokokchung, Mon, Peren, Tuensang, Wokha, Zunheboto, and West Sikkim. Whether this is a case of true null or null reporting needs to be investigated.

5. Are the counts of attempts to rape related to actual rape counts across districts?

There is a somewhat linear relationship between attempted rapes and actual rape counts. However, in this data, we find several districts reporting zero counts for cases filed as ‘attempt to rape’, which makes the data quality questionable. A deeper analysis is required to better understand this relationship.

The takeaway is that if we consider crimes and thereby violence against women as a systemic problem, it is going to require little more than spontaneous activism. Systemic problems require sustainable solutions that rely on evidence-based advocacy and responsive policymaking. We can use data to understand regional variations, explore social determinants and patterns of different forms of violence and to monitor the crime rates to specifically target better policies and investments for certain districts. Data is one of our strongest tools in ensuring women’s safety in India and around the world.


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