India is the most dangerous country for women because of high risk of sexual violence and slave labour, according to a survey of experts. It is also the most dangerous for cultural traditions that impact women.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation conducted a poll of 548 global experts on women’s issues. The report, which was released on Tuesday, names the top ten countries which are dangerous for women. India, topping the list, seems to be the most dangerous for sexual violence against women, human trafficking for domestic work, forced marriage, and forced labour, among many other reasons.

Shockingly, in the same survey seven years ago, India was the fourth most dangerous country for women. So clearly, the situation has worsened

The foundation also pointed out that child marriage, although decreased, is still alive, with almost 750 million women and girls married before 18. These baseless norms put these girls at huge risk of heath, also limiting education opportunities. According to the findings, India is also the most dangerous in the world for cultural traditions impacting women negatively. The survey revealed this citing cases of domestic physical abuse, child marriage, acid attacks and female genital mutilation.

No Improvement in Safety

Despite several public protests, debates and promises, there hasn’t been any substantial improvement with regard to safety for women in India. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, around 100 sexual assaults are reported to police in the country every day in India. Also, along side Libya and Myanmar, India is considered the world’s most dangerous nation for women exploited by human traffickers, a global crime worth an estimated $150 billion a year.

There’s no denying that the country, over the past few decades, has been working towards empowering women. But is it enough?

 Top ten most dangerous countries for women as the per survey:

India, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Nigeria and United States. 

War-torn Afghanistan ranked as the second worst country for women in areas concerning conflict-related violence and domestic abuse. Syria, another country patched by war for almost a decade now, ranks third on the list. United States ranks at number 10, becoming the only Western country to be included. The foundation believes United States’ mention was directly related to the #MeToo movement.

Opinions

Pallavi Pareek, Founder and Managing Partner at Ungender, says, “Violence against women comes in so many forms in our society that for the solution providers and justice system to be effective, women have to come to terms with it and start talking about it. Secondly, absence of it is taken from a privileged representation of the society where we showcase actresses and handful of women leaders in corporates and start feeling good about the changing conditions of women in this country. The biggest mistake we can make is to take data from one place (problem with masses) and measure success and change from another (privileged). How on earth can an actress working after being married and having a baby be compared to the changing fate of the masses in our society? Where are the stories of those women who are continuing with this fate? Lastly, I give a lot of importance to increasing number of avenues to reporting of crimes; so in a way, its is conflicted and debatable, whether the crime is increasing or we have come up with effective means for women to be able to come out and report such crimes. Perhaps, this is where we need to reach, number 1, to be now able to buckle up towards addressing these issues. I mean, we can’t go any higher.”

Purvi Gupta of SheThePeople says: “It’s true that a variety of crimes happen against women all across the world. However, there is a huge lack in management of this issue in our country. Even if women file cases of harassment and molestation, it takes many years for them to get solved. We need greater gender sensitization to reduce crime rate in general but also for the law-enforcing agencies to understand a survivor’s state better.”

According to corporate professional Amandeep Dhanda, “There are programmes and initiatives functioning towards women empowerment but the question is are these enough? How do we work towards changing mindsets? Because if a large population still considers women as inferior to men then gender based discrimination and violence is bound to happen every minute of every day and this is the biggest problem that has to be solved. – the patriarchal mindset.”

The poll was conducted online, by phone and in person between March 26 and May 4 this year. It was evenly spread across South East Asia, South Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. The experts comprised academics, policy-makers, healthcare professionals, NGO workers, development specialists and social commentators.

According to the IMF, India is the world’s fastest growing economy. By 2028, as per UN, India is expected to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation. However, none of the development will flourish if women in India are still suffering in the hands of patriarchal mindsets.
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