Earlier today Al Jazeera published an interactive feature titled "Violence against India's women." The info-graphic summarizes a wide range of data relating to sexual violence in India, including the byzantine process victims of rapes must navigate before charges can be pressed. What caught my eye was a state-by-state comparison of rates of sexual violence:
|Source: Alia Chugtai. "Interactive: Violence Against Women." Al Jazeera English. 3 October 2013.|
It can be a bit cumbersome to click through the interactive version of this map to view each state's sex crime rate , so I have compiled them in a table for easier viewing:
|"Crimes Against Women" per 1000 people.|
Based on data presented in Alia Chugtai.
"Interactive: Violence Against Women." Al Jazeera English. 3 October 2013.
I was rather astonished by this data. I expected sexual violence to correspond with development levels. This is not the case. Sexual violence in Assam, West Bengal, and Rajasthan, states with low rates of GDP per capita, literacy, life expectancy, and other common indexes of development, is barely worse than in Kerala, a state that leads India in almost all of these measures. Strange combinations can also be found at the bottom of the list, where rich developed states like Goa have the same rate of sexual violence as Bihar, India's poorest and least educated state.
|Literacy Rate in India, by province.|
Source: "Literacy Rate." Maps of India. Last updated 12 November 2012.
Neither wealth, knowledge, or living standards can explain the distribution of India's sexual violence. What does? I have spent the last thirty minutes looking at lists of India's states by sex ratio, household size, HIV awareness, corruption, language, family structure, and number of Muslims in major metropolitan areas. None of these lists match our pattern. There does seem to be a relation between sexual violence and violent crimes generally but that does not explain too much. We are still left asking why some places in India are plagued with violence while others are relatively free of this problem.
So I pose this question to my readers: what accounts for the unexpected distribution of crime-especially sexual crime-across India? Why do Kerala and Assam have three times the rate sexual violence of Tamil Nadu or Uttarakhand?
EDIT (10 October 2013):
The original government report that Al Jazeera used to make the map can be found here. It includes some additional data (p. 88) on the distribution of "crimes against women" in India's major urban areas:
Among 35 cities, Delhi (3,886) has accounted for 16.0% of total crimes followed by Hyderabad (1,964) (8.1%). The crime rate was significantly higher in Vijayawada, Jaipur, Faridabad, Lucknow, Vishakhapatnam and Agra at 113.7, 50.9, 47.0, 46.4, 45.6 and 45.3 respectively as compared to average of mega cities at 22.6. Delhi city has accounted for 23.0% of Rape cases, 37.7% of Kidnapping & Abduction cases, 14.6% of Dowry Deaths and 16.5% of Molestation cases among 35 cities. Hyderabad has reported 12.2% of cases of Cruelty by Husband and Relatives. Vijayawada has reported 16.0% of cases of Eve-teasing. Kolkata city has reported 3 out of 7 cases reported under Importation of Girls. It is worthwhile to mention that Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Jaipur have booked more cases under Special & Local Laws among the mega cities. 11.9% (111 out of 934) of cases under Immoral Traffic(Prevention) Act and 81.3% (557 out of 685) of Dowry Prohibition Act cases were registered in Bengaluru city alone.
Similarly, 18.6% (174), 14.3% (134) and 13.2% (123) of 934 cases under Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act were registered in Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai respectively. All the 24 out of 26 cases under Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act cases were registered in Jaipur city accounting for 92.3% of such cases.
 What I call "sex crimes" and "sexual violence" are called "crimes against women" by the Indian government. This is not limited to rape. The Indian government breaks these crimes them into the following groups:
|Source: National Crime Records Bureau. Crime in India -- 2012. (New Delhi: Ministry of Home Affairs). 4 June 2013. p. 87.|