Pic: Christine Mehta / Amnesty International India
Pic: Christine Mehta / Amnesty International India

Cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence against women are still common throughout India. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a total of 244,270 incidents of crimes against women, including nearly 25,000 cases of rape, were reported in 2012, an increase of 6.4% over 2011. NCRB figures show that the number of reported crimes against women have been and are continuously rising since 2009. It is widely believed that these numbers may be underestimates, because of widespread under-reporting due to issues of security, social stigma and fear of reprisals.

India has also ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women has asked state parties to the CEDAW to ensure that laws against family violence and abuse, rape, sexual assault and other gender-based violence give adequate protection to all women, and respect their integrity and dignity, as gender-based violence is a form of discrimination. Even when such acts are committed by non-state actors, the state bears responsibility and its officials can be held criminally liable if they knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that that such acts are being committed by non-state actors and they failed to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and prosecute them.

At a national level, the Constitution of India guarantees equality under Article 14, which states that “the State shall not deny to any person equality before law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” Article 15(1) states that “the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.” In addition, Article 15(3) leaves scope for affirmative action for women: “nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.” However, the country fares poorly on gender inequality, and was ranked 132 out of 187 countries in the Gender Inequality Index of the UN Development Programme.

In recent years, high-visibility cases of sexual violence, notably the 2012 fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern in Delhi, have caused public outrage. Pressure to deal in an effective manner with violence against women resulted in the establishment in 2013 of the Justice Verma Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law, to review the laws around violence against women and make recommendations, some of which were subsequently enshrined in law under the 2013 Criminal Law Amendments Act. This Act was a positive step for women’s rights in India, yet fell short of the Committee recommendations.

Ready to Report - The Campaign

The Amnesty International India’s effort to ensure that women who choose to report sexual violence can do so safely, with dignity and without facing prejudice.

Surveys show that an estimated 30.53% of women who experience sexual violence actually tell someone about the incident, but only 1% out of these end up reporting to the police, due to concerns of security, social stigma & discrimination.

Though the 2013 Criminal Law Amendments Act was a positive step for women’s rights in India, there are still many barriers for women to report crimes safely and with dignity. Our vision is to reduce barriers to safe and dignified reporting of sexual violence, without facing prejudice.

Amnesty International India’s Ready to Report campaign highlights the multiple challenges survivors of sexual violence face, in relation to reporting. By addressing these challenges, our campaign aims to change the perception people have about reporting.

How do we do this?

1. Online! allows the user to understand exactly how the process of registering a complaint of sexual violence works, the rights anyone filing such a report is entitled to, and also provides simple tips on what to expect when going to the police station.

2. On-ground!

· • Partnerships with schools and colleges to increase awareness on being #readytoreport.

· • Empowering survivors to talk about the challenges they face while reporting sexual violence.

· • Engaging with the police & other government authorities to ensure a better reporting environment for all women.

3. Mobile!

· • Information, petitions, polls & more- a space where the #readytoreport dialogue is constantly updated.

· • Easy access to information for anyone looking to get involved with the campaign, along with periodic follow-ups.