Assam records highest cases of sexual violence by armed forces in 20 years: NGO

Sexual violence against women “perpetrated by armed forces of the central government as well as state police” are recorded highest in Assam followed by Manipur as per a report by an NGO.

A report by National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT) mentions that 114 cases of rape, molestation and other forms of sexual violence involving armed forces were recorded between November 1, 2000 to October 30, 2020, in 11 states across the country.

“An analysis of these 114 cases of sexual violence shows that the maximum cases were reported from Assam (21) followed by Manipur (18), Chhattisgarh (17), Jammu & Kashmir (16); Tripura (14); Jharkhand (7) and Meghalaya (6); Arunachal Pradesh (6); Odisha (5); Andhra Pradesh (3) and Maharashtra (1),” the report said.

An analysis of these 114 cases of sexual violence also reveals that a total of 224 women and girls were victimised.

The maximum number of victims were reported from Chhattisgarh (92 victims); Assam (26 victims); Manipur (21 victims); Jammu and Kashmir (20 victims); Tripura (19 victims); Andhra Pradesh (16 victims); Jharkhand (nine victims); Meghalaya (seven victims); Arunachal Pradesh (seven victims); Odisha (five victims); and Maharashtra (two victims).

The violence against women included 42 cases of gangrape, six cases of murder, three cases of rape of pregnant women, four cases of rape of differently-abled, three cases of being shot dead for resisting molestation and rape, attempt to rape, stripping and molestation among others.

Minor girls were particularly vulnerable to sexual violence and 74 out of the 224 total victims constituting 33 per cent were minor girls between 7-17 years.

Tribal women and girls were disproportionate victims as 156 out of the 224 total victims constituting 69.6 per cent were tribal.

As per the official figures, a total of 9,448 people were killed in conflict areas during 2009 to 2019 including 3,747 persons in the LWE (Left Wing Extremism) affected areas; 3,070 persons in the Northeast; and 2,631 persons in Jammu & Kashmir.

The list was released on October 31 to mark the 20th year of adoption of Resolution 1325 by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) which calls upon all parties in armed conflicts to respect international law applicable to the rights and protection of females.

National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT) is a platform for action of the NGOs committed to stamp out torture worldwide.

“While India removed the requirement of prosecution under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code for sexual offences under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 as recommended by the Justice Verma Committee, it failed to amend the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) to remove the requirement of prior sanction in cases of sexual violence. This implies that for sexual violence committed by the armed forces and the police in areas not covered by the AFSPA, prior sanction is no longer required for prosecution but in the areas which are declared ‘disturbed’ under the AFSPA, prior sanction is still required for prosecution including in cases of sexual offences. This is a constitutional fraud,” said Suhas Chakma, coordinator of the NCAT.

The NCAT also called upon the Centre to amend relevant sections of the AFSPA to remove the requirement of prior sanction in cases of sexual offences to fully implement UNSC resolution 1325 and ensure equality before the law and protection of the law for the women and girls living in the areas declared under the AFSPA.

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