Tamil Nadu has reported the highest number of child marriage cases in the country for 2015. This is the third consecutive year that the state has topped the number of child marriage cases. According to National Crime Records Bureau, the state accounted for 26.2% all child marriage cases in India with 77 such cases being reported in 2015. Overall, 293 child marriages were stopped across India in 2015.
According to Adarsh Jain’s report in the Times of India, the 2011 Census data on fertility revealed that there were 82.52 lakh girls below 15 years of age in Tamil Nadu at the time of documentation. Of these, 62,500 were already married and 16,855 underage girls were mothers to at least one child. Economic burden was the main reason for marrying girls off early, child rights activists told TOI, with urban areas reporting more cases of child marriage due to higher population.
Tamil Nadu reported the third highest number of crimes under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. 2015 was the first time the NCRB was recording data on child trafficking. 51% of all trafficking cases in India involved children below 18 years and a majority of them were girls being trafficked for prostitution, reports Deeptiman Tiwary in the Indian Express. Tamil Nadu witnessed 13 cases of child trafficking in 2015, accounting for 0.4% of the cases in the country.
While the latest data shows that Tamil Nadu crimes like murder and rape decreased in 2015, the state reported the third highest number of trafficking cases in India and the highest in the south, constituting 19.3% of all such cases reported in the country.
Crimes against women
Not only did rape go down by 7.4% in 2015 from the previous year, Tamil Nadu continued to have the least number of rape cases reported among the southern states. However, in over 96% of the cases, the perpetrator was known to the victim. Kerala recorded 1256 cases, the highest in the south, followed by Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka respectively.
No custodial rapes were reported in any of these five states in 2015.
Tamil Nadu also had the least number of stalking cases in the south as well as least incidence of assault on women with the intent to outrage her modesty. While Telangana reported the most number of stalking cases, Andhra Pradesh witnessed the highest number of cases of assault on women in the south.
While only four cases were reported under the Domestic Violence Act in Tamil Nadu, the state had 333 cases under dowry prohibition – the 6th highest in India and the most reported in the south. Dowry deaths, however, decreased by 31.5% from 2014.
Marriage was also found to be the most popular motive to kidnap and abduct women in 2015. 1104 cases such cases were reported from Tamil Nadu in 2015, the highest across India, as compared to 1080 from 2014.
However, Geeta Ramaseshan, senior lawyer at the Madras High Court argues that the high numbers could also be because many parents register kidnapping and abduction cases when girls elope with their partners. “Especially when an inter-caste couple is involved, there is a lot of urgency to register a case,” she says.
But the most alarming figure recorded in the state with relation to women’s security pertained to sexual harassment – from 46 cases in 2014, the figure rose by 328% in 2015 to 197. While Geeta says that this could also be because of increased reporting and registration of such cases, she warns that unless there is a breakdown of who is the complainant and the circumstances involved, the numbers may be misleading when taken in absolute form.
Rioting and caste crimes
4% of all rioting cases reported in India in 2015 were from Tamil Nadu and caste riot cases increased by about 101% in 2015. While 211 cases of rioting due to caste conflict were reported in 2014, the number shot up to 426 in 2015. 17.8% of all caste riots victims were also from Tamil Nadu.
While the number of cases reported under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act decreased by 87.3% in 2015 from 2014, the figure was still the second highest all over India, next only to Uttar Pradesh.
Caste related violence has been increasing in the state for many years now. From being 9th in India in caste-related crimes in 2005, the state has been in the second position for the last two years.
Crimes against senior citizens
The state was fourth highest incidence of crimes against senior citizens in the country and second in the number of murder cases reported against older persons. The most murder cases were reported in Maharashtra (167), with Tamil Nadu trailing close behind with 162.
The third highest number of senior citizens were robbed in Tamil Nadu with Maharashtra and Karnataka topping the list. Tamil Nadu also had one of the highest incidence of senior citizens being cheated in the country.
Past data has revealed that most senior citizens are murdered for gain and many of them live alone, making them easy targets. On most occasions, the perpetrator is a known to the victims.
While Chennai has witnessed a spate of crimes against senior citizens, K Shankar, Additional Commissioner of Police denied that there was an increase in such incidents. "The crimes against senior citizens in Chennai has decreased in the last couple of years. We are taking extra effort and don't see much cases. We try to reach the senior citizens, we have all the details and we go and meet them. We try to make them feel comfortable. The reasons for the crimes cannot be stated without going through all the data," he said.