The new year’s eve sexual attacks against female revellers in Bengaluru may have generated nationwide outrage, but most such cases end up with no punishment: No more than one in 100 cases registered in Karnataka under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)–“Assault on women with intention to outrage her modesty–” ended in a conviction in 2015, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. Nationwide, one in 10 such cases ended in conviction, 10 times better than Karnataka’s record.
The outrage further grew after the video of a woman woman being groped and molested on a Bangalore street the same night went viral.
In 2015, of 5,112 cases registered under Section 354, only 69 (1.3%) ended in conviction. Of the 9,118 persons arrested in these cases, only 107 (1.2%) were convicted.
Across India, 82,422 cases of sexual assault were registered, of which 8,408 (10%) ended in conviction. Of 101,571 persons arrested for these attacks, 11,342 (11%) were convicted.
While the number of cases under this section rose by 92% from 42,968 in 2011 to 82,422 in 2015, conviction rates declined from 16% in 2011 to 10% in 2015.
Maharashtra reported the most sexual assaults (11,713), followed by Madhya Pradesh (8,049) and Uttar Pradesh (7,885) in 2015.
The rise in cases registered can be correlated to the change in laws–which were tightened, possibly leading to higher reporting–after the 2012 gangrape of a physiotherapy student, now widely known as Nirbhaya, which sparked nationwide protests and outrage.
Conviction rates reduce by more than 1/4th for Section 509 cases
In 2015, 8,685 cases were registered in India under Section 509 of the IPC–“Insult to modesty of women”, of which no more than 870 (10%) resulted in conviction, a drop of 33 percentage points from 43% conviction rate in 2011.
Under this section, 9,870 were arrested across India, of which 1,108 were convicted (11%).
In Karnataka, of 154 cases registered under Section 509 in 2015, no more than seven (5%) ended in a conviction. Of the 163 persons arrested in these cases, nine (6%) were convicted.
(Saha is an MA Gender and Development student at Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.)