WASHINGTON: Nine in ten Indians, surveyed by a US think-tank, say that rape is a “very big problem” in their country and the criminal justice system is inadequate to deal with the issue.
The survey by the Pew Research Centre, released in Washington on Tuesday, was conducted a year after the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi that made national headlines.
The survey shows that 90 per cent Indians agree that the crime of rape is a “very big problem” in the country. Further, roughly 82pc say the problem is growing.
Nearly three-in-four Indians (74 pc) say that the laws in the country are too lax when it comes to punishment in cases of rape. About as many (78pc) fault the country’s police for not being strict enough in investigating such cases.
The researches say that “the concern about rape cuts across gender and party lines, and is shared by urban and rural Indians.”
The survey — conducted between December 7, 2013, and January 12 — is based on 2,464 face-to-face interviews in states and territories home to roughly 91 pc of the Indian adult population.
Since the New Delhi assault, cases of rape in India continue to gain national and international attention, generating widespread concern about the safety of women both in urban and rural sectors of the country.
In the aftermath of the Delhi case, the Indian government appointed a 3-member committee, headed by Justice J.S. Verma, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, to suggest amendments to the current criminal code dealing with cases of sexual assault. The committee was highly critical of the current laws and law-enforcement in dealing with sexual assault, and after reviewing feedback from the general public, made several recommendations to alter the criminal code.
While some of the recommendations of the Verma Committee were implementedn March 2013, the public remains dissatisfied with the current laws and the police’s handling of rape cases, with roughly three-in-four saying that the current criminal code for dealing with such cases is too lax.