Allahabad: In a recent reply to a Right to Information query on reasons behind rising incidents of rape in the state, Uttar Pradesh police caused outrage by saying that it was due to TV, mobile phones and women's clothing. But this is not an isolated view, as NDTV found when we went on the ground to speak to a cross section of policemen in different districts. Many of them share the same bizarre, regressive understanding of the reasons for sexual violence. We recorded some of these on record, others on hidden camera.
Allahabad district recorded 103 cases of rape in 2013, second highest in the state. These are the views of its men in khaki.
At the Bara police station, Station House Officer KP Rai told us "See decent clothes should be worn. Sometimes clothes are just for names' sake. When that happens then you may have to face trouble". A constable at the same police station said TV has caused an increase in sexual violence incidents. "More rapes cases are happening after television has come to every household, also mobiles."
Constable Deepak Shukla at the Tharwai police station said, "Dressing should be appropriate. Should be according to the Indian culture. Then such incidents will decrease."
In the city, we spoke to the Assistant Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar Yadav, who said amongst other reasons, "People have live-in relationships. Sometimes relationships go wrong. Some cases come up where women allege that they have been undergoing it for three years which is not possible."
Meerut district in western UP, with 109 cases in 2013, recorded the highest number of rapes in the entire state.
Sub-Inspector Rani Chauhan at Civil Lines police station attributes it to more exposure to the online world. "Earlier such incidents were fewer. Now after TV, internet, Facebook, there has been an increase in such incidents," he said.
Sitapur district too had a high number of cases last year at 95. Khairabad Station House Officer DK Singh said "Only rarest of the rare rape cases are real."
While Barabanki district had a relatively lower number of rape cases last year at 39, the views are the same. The SHO at Jahangirabad Police Station, TB Singh, said, "Not majority but 2 per cent of the cases are where the women drink alcohol. If after that you expect to be 100 per cent safe, then both are not possible."
These views, among those tasked with protecting people, serve as a huge deterrent to women who would otherwise muster up the courage to report sexual violence.
In Barabanki, we met a 17-year-old girl who alleges that she was raped by a boy from her village when she was alone at home, earlier this year. Scared and unsure, she did not tell her family about the incident. Months later she discovered she was pregnant, which is when her family went to the police. Describing the ordeal, she says, "We went to the nearby police station 2-3 times who refused to register the case. They said I should marry the boy." The family finally got the case registered and the accused is now in custody.
Women's rights activists say it is a common phenomenon. Lucknow-based Usha Vishwakarma, of the Red Brigade, says, "Whenever we approach the police with sexual violence cases, their first reaction is negative. It is not easy to register an FIR."
The police may dismiss the view of activists, but perhaps they should pay heed to those who underwent the trauma. A man whose minor daughter was gang-raped by four boys last week in Amethi when she went to the fields to go to toilet, says "The fault lies with the boys. My daughter didn't wear jeans nor has a mobile. We don't have a TV either."
The state registered over 3,000 cases of rape which averages to about eight a day, while its conviction rate is only 56 per cent.