On Thursday, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released its annual crime figures, which showed that Pune had recorded 354 rape cases in 2016, making it the third most unsafe city for women in India, behind Delhi and Mumbai. However, the actual number of such incidents may be even higher.
According to doctors from the Sassoon General Hospital, as many as 550 cases of sexual assault have been treated at the largest government hospital in the city in the last 12 months. At least 70 per cent of these cases were from Pune, while the remaining were from areas outside the city. However, the rise in the number of assaulted children and adolescents was alarming, said the doctors.
Of these 550 cases, at least 30 per cent were instances of sexual assault against minors, said officials of the forensic department of the hospital. “The lower the victim’s age, more serious is the nature of the injury,” Dr Ramesh Bhosale, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the B J Government Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital, told The Indian Express.
Dr Ajay Chandanwale, dean of the college and hospital, confirmed that the number of rape and assault cases has been increasing over the years. In the last three months, from September to November, a total of 124 cases of sexual assault were treated at Sassoon General Hospital, according to official data. Of these, 82 of the victims were below 18 years of age. “A majority of these are school-going children who belong to poor families and orphanages,” said Dr Bhosale.
The number of unnatural sex offences has also shown a rise, said officials of the forensic department. Dr Dasmit Singh, professor of Paediatric Surgery at B J Government Medical College, agreed that the number of assault cases was going up. “The nature of injuries is rather severe and include examination under anaesthesia. At least five to six repair surgeries have to be undertaken annually,” said Dr Singh.
According to officials of the Women and Child Department Ministry — which is in charge of implementing the Manodhairya scheme to provide financial, medical and legal aid to survivors of sexual assault — over 7,000 cases of rape and sexual abuse have been registered in Maharashtra in the last four years; about 66 per cent of the victims are minors.