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Of 706 Rape Cases Reported In Delhi In 2012, Only 1 Resulted In Conviction

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RAPE DELHI
Supporters of the Communist Party of India shout slogans during a demonstration against a gang rape in Muzafarnagar, in New Delhi on Dec. 6, 2013. | RAVEENDRAN via Getty Images

The case of a woman gang-raped on a bus in New Delhi on Dec. 16, 2012, resulted in convictions for the perpetrators; but for most instances of reported rape in India's capital, the case never gets that far.

As The Guardian reports, of the 706 recorded rapes in Delhi in 2012, only the widely reported Dec. 16 case saw a conviction. Since that brutal assault last year, the number of reported rapes in Delhi has nearly doubled.

The lack of convictions illustrates a sad state of affairs for victims of sexual assault in the region. While rape cases may be reported -- perhaps in higher numbers this year because more women are coming forward -- convictions are few and far between.

Of the 635 rapes reported to Delhi police in 2011, there was only one conviction despite a high number of arrests, the Press Trust of India reports.

It's unclear why the proportion of rape convictions to reported rapes is so low in Delhi. As The Hindu suggests, the blame may lay with the investigation process.

"Low conviction rates in rape cases are primarily a result of the low quality of police investigation,” Supreme Court lawyer Rebecca John told the newspaper. "Yes, there are cases where prejudices on the part of the judges creep in, especially when the [rape victim] and the accused are known to each other, or when there is an absence of injuries. But on the whole, conviction rates in all criminal cases would be much higher if the police did a better job of investigation."

However, a Reuters analysis found fault with India's criminal justice system.

"The number of courts, judges and prosecutors is grossly inadequate, leading to trials that last years, intimidation of victims and witnesses, and the dropping of many cases before judgment," the report reads.

While media attention and widespread protests have sometimes spurred authorities to take action -- most notably in the 2012 bus case -- it seems many cases are still failing to make it to judgment.

"[Every day] girls traveling in buses are subjected to molestation. Women continue to suffer," Supreme Court Justice G.S. Singhvi recently said in court after hearing current figures on the number of reported rapes. "Incidents get highlighted when the people come out to protest."

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