The Indian National Congress, while slamming the Bharatiya Janta Party and the ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala, tweeted on April 2 that cases of rape have increased in Kerala by 25% between 2017 and 2019.
But, according to the National Crime Records Bureau and the Kerala Police’s crime statistics, the increase in rape cases in the two years has been 0.9% and 3.6%, respectively. So, the claim stands false.
Better crime reporting
“Currently in Kerala, rape is reported quite frequently which means that the shame around reporting rape has come down,” J Devika, a feminist scholar from Trivandrum, told FactChecker. “Women going to the police or to other public authorities to seek support in cases of sexual assault have actually increased. If the number of rape cases in the state go up, it does not mean that the cases actually have gone up, but that reporting on these cases has risen.”
FactChecker checked another source of information for the data: Kerala police’s crime statistics. This showed that 2003 cases were registered in 2017 and 2076 in 2019, which is 3.6% increase. The state police’s provisional data for 2020 also showed a dip in rape cases as 1,807 cases were registered.
“In the last two years, we have seen that there has been a great change especially with the number of younger women in Kerala who are being vocal and ready to report cases of gender-based violence,” Kavya Sinna Menon, a women’s rights activist in Kerala. “The people working in offices too have become more supportive on such causes as a result of which the whole system has become more enabling to report crime.”
“The LDF has created an enabling ecosystem to get support from the public authorities regarding women’s safety,” added Menon.
Even Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said in a poll rally in Alappuzha’s Haripad that the state must elect BJP to power “to ensure the safety of women in Kerala”.
In fact, when it comes to cases of gender-based violence, southern states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are trailing in the list among all other states in India.
“Better educational opportunities, a culture which respects women in a strict way, differences which make south Indians more conservative and orthodox but at the same time progressive, in terms of culture, education and status of women, make that region safer than the rest of the nation,” Dr Alice Evans, a lecturer at King’s College London, a Faculty Associate at Harvard CID and one who has researched extensively on gender disparity in northern and southern India, was quoted as saying in an India Times report.
This article first appeared on FactChecker.in, a publication of the data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit IndiaSpend.