COIMBATORE – How safe are women in Tamil Nadu? If data with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is any indication, the state has some distance to go before it can claim women are completely safe here. The reason is Tamil Nadu has registered the maximum number of cases involving kidnapping of women and girls in 2011, according to NCRB data, the highest among the four southern states.
Take a look at the statistics: Tamil Nadu recorded 1,743 cases of kidnappings of women including girls, followed by Andhra Pradesh at 1,612, Karnataka at 1,395 and Kerala with 299 cases. In comparison, UP, the topper in the all-India list, recorded 7,525 cases followed by West Bengal at 3,711. Bihar, once perceived as the kidnap capital of the country, recorded 3,050 case
The highest number of cases in TN has been orted from Villupuram district (187) followed by Salem (rural) (108) and Cuddalore (100). Chennai with 41 cases and Coimbatore with 39, fare better than most other districts.
Numbers, of course, don’t tell the whole story always. Tamil Nadu police is quick to dismiss any alarm that could arise out of the dramatic figures and claim that majority of these cases are about elopements. Except those cases in which the involved victim is a minor, the other cases are usually settled amicably between the parents of the involved couple and police officials later, police say.
Police officials who have dealt with such cases say that the first response of agitated parents and husbands of women who elope from their homes due to personal reasons is to accuse the other party of kidnap. It is a different matter, however, if the girl involved is below 18 years of age, officials say.
Legal and psychological experts closely who have handled abduction cases argue such incidents should not be merely treated as regular crime cases since these reflect changing social mores. Young women are becoming financially independent and socially secure by themselves and hence often decide to select life partners by themselves, which the elders refuse to acknowledge.
“Most of the women these days prefer to make their own decisions and often face stiff resistance from their parents. When they elope with their partners, the parents file abduction cases and later the matter is sorted out by police, parents and other parties involved,” says D Geetha, lawyer, Madurai bench of Madras high court. G P Godhanavalli, a family counsellor, also corroborates Geetha’s view. “Agitated parents approach the police and get the elopement recorded as case of abduction. It is only after locating the couple and cross checking with them we get to know the truth,” she adds. However, Godhanavalli speaks of an alarming trend where young girls below the age of 18 are lured into relationships during their school days. “We have to give counselling to the girls as well as their parents when they come to us,” she adds.
E S Uma, SP, Coimbatore Rural, says no case of kidnapping for ransom has been registered in Coimbatore rural police limits . “We have registered kidnapping cases involving minors who eloped with older people,” says Uma.
In the Coimbatore city police limits, one case of kidnapping for ransom was reported in 2011. A five-member gang was arrested by Coimbatore city police for kidnapping a 25-year-old textile merchant and detaining him at a house in Thiruvalluvar Nagar near Ondipudur. The gang had demanded a ransom of Rs 3.25 lakh.
Women& Girls Others Total
Tamil Nadu 1743 241 1984
Kerala 221 78 299
Karnataka 715 680 1395
Andhra Pradesh 1612 542 2154