ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Why India Needs a Crime Victimisation Survey

To be effective, policies on sexual violence against women must be evidence-based. In India, the National Crime Records Bureau publishes crime statistics based on first information reports. These constitute a useful summary, but do not provide policymakers the understanding to formulate a crime-fighting strategy. A national crime victimisation survey would supplement the NCRB data with critical inputs. Survey data could be used to further research in criminology and police reforms, assess the impact of punitive measures such as of the death penalty on the crime rate, and make informed decisions on legalising offences such as marital rape.


This article has been revised and strengthened following the comments made by the referees. The author would like to express her gratitude to the referees for their insightful comments. Views expressed here are personal.

In 2012, in the wake of the brutal rape and murder of a young woman in the National Capital Region of India, thousands of people all over the country took to the streets demanding stricter action against sexual violence. The government passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 and constituted the Nirbhaya fund exclusively for women’s safety programmes. On 16 April 2018, eight men were arrested for the abduction, rape, and murder of an eight-year-old girl, sparking public outrage and widespread protests. In response, the Government of India passed an ordinance allowing courts to award the death penalty for those convicted of raping children younger than 12 years. Two points merit attention in this context.

One, data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) from 2001 to 2016 show no decline in the crime rate. In the five-year period from 2012 to 2016, nearly 1,70,000 women in India had reported being raped (NCRB 2016). A few cases draw the occasional attention of the media and public, the government makes incremental reforms driven by public demand, but the overarching problem—seemingly growing incidence of sexual violence—persists.

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Updated On : 19th Jul, 2019
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