When can we expect change in Delhi's rape statistics?

Protest Image copyright AFP
Image caption The gang rape of the 23-year-old woman shocked India

Looking at recently released official data on crimes against women it is clear that there are no major surprises - at least as far as the figures for Delhi go.

More women were raped in Delhi than in any other of India's large cities in 2012, according to the National Crime Records Bureau in its latest figures.

It says that the city of Delhi, home to 7.5 million women, recorded 585 cases of rape in 2012, compared with a total of 484 cases from the cities of Mumbai (232 cases), Calcutta (68), Chennai (94) and Bangalore (90 cases). Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta are megacities with populations of more than 10 million people.

Delhi also recorded the highest number of crimes against women out of the big cities: the capital accounted for 14.18% of crimes against women out of 53 cities surveyed in its latest report.

The report said 5,194 cases of crimes against women were reported from Delhi during 2012, up from 4,489 cases in 2011.

As far as India is concerned, 244,270 incidents of crimes against women were reported from all over the country last year.

Scrutiny of sexual violence in India has grown since the rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus in December. The gang-rape of the student sparked widespread protests and prompted the government to alter laws relating to rape in India.

It is common knowledge that many incidents of rape and other crimes against women go unreported.

But, going by recent reports, most cities are seeing an increase in recorded cases after the tragedy in Delhi and the introduction of new anti-rape laws.

So this year's figures of crimes against women in Delhi - and the rest of India - which will be announced in 2014, will be far more significant than the latest set.

I will be surprised if we didn't see a sharp rise in incidents of all crimes against women, helping us to understand better how bad the situation is.

But more significantly, the figures for 2103 will also begin to tell us whether the new anti-rape laws have spurred more victims to report crimes and the police to record and investigate them with alacrity.