“The Thomson Reuters Foundation survey resonated with me as one of the feminist moments in the year because while women of the country hope to live in better times without much ado about their safety, as a part of a ‘civilized society’ there are way too many milestones to achieve and the path will be a long one to tread on,” writes Esha Chaudhari.

Among many other events in the year of 2018 that sparked outrage concerning the women of the country, was when Thomson Reuters Foundation survey of 548 experts on women’s issues, published a global report marking India as the world’s most unsafe place for women, surpassing war-torn Syria and Afghanistan. The survey included a wide range of state and non state actors such as academics, health workers, policy-makers and NGO workers, of which 43 are based in India — were asked to rank the top 10 amongst the 193 United Nations member states based on six main categories: healthcare, discrimination, cultural traditions, sexual violence, and human trafficking. There emerged many counter narratives from government apologists and blinded nationalists who out rightly rejected the report, questioning the basis of the report and the means of its quantification.

Key Takeaways:

  • Earlier this year Thomson Reuters Foundation survey marked India as the world’s most unsafe place for women, surpassing war-torn Syria and Afghanistan.
  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, crimes against women have recorded a whopping 83% increase from 2007 to 2016.
  • The report findings and the reactions was definitely a revelation for people in positions of power to begin somewhere, hoping to lead up to the destination of change for its women and the general imagery of the country.
  • This report resonated with me as one of the feminist moments in the year because while women of the country hope to live in better times without much ado about their safety as a part of a ‘civilized society’ there are way too many milestones to achieve and the path will be a long one to tread on.

The findings of this report has definitely marked a big black blot on India’s global image considering India’s aspirations of growing into a powerful nation in every aspect – technology, warfare, defence, and economy. Even more so, because of its hyper aggressive policies, trying to outdo its neighbours, forming alliances with the Trump administration and most of all being the world’s largest democracy, inscribing many progressive rights for women in its constitution and then having to be compared to Saudi Arabia, which only recently, in its historic judgement allowed its women to drive.

The findings of this report has definitely marked a big black blot on India’s global image considering India’s aspirations of growing into a powerful nation in every aspect.

This was an eye opener to those who were oblivious to the enormity of gender-based violence in the country, most of which are silenced or tolerated to the maintain status quo of societal institutions such as family, or maintenance of sanctity of power structures. A harsh Indian reality reeks of misogyny, gender bias and an innate disdain towards its women. The magnitude of crime rates against women both in public and private domain only substantiates the claim that women can hardly claim any space as ‘safe’ for themselves. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, crimes against women have recorded a whopping 83% increase from 2007 to 2016. Even though this implies that more women are filing official complaints and are registering crimes against them, what is disheartening here is, their conviction rates and measures to prevent and counteractive measures are only piecemeal reforms.

Empowering Moments Indian Women

This year also marks the sixth death anniversary of one of the most heinous and gruesome crimes in recent times, the Nirbhaya rape. The incident that occurred on the horrific night of 16th December, 2012 has not seen the daylight of justice till date, despite the vast media coverage and attention that this incident received globally, speaks volumes about the apathy and callous attitudes of our law enforcement agencies, along with the long-drawn justice systems towards its women. It is another daunting truth about the non-existent justice system prevalent against the other forms of crimes against women within their homes, by perpetrators who are known to them. The report findings and the reactions was definitely a revelation for people in positions of power to begin somewhere, hoping to lead up to the destination of change for its women and the general imagery of the country, that worships goddesses and yet kills the female foetus. Therefore, personally, the report was disappointing and shameful to an extent, but not shocking. I say this with utmost pain and agony that working in a nonprofit organisation on issues of gender, particularly one that explores the height and depth of women’s safety in smart cities, the types of cases that surface and the pushback from the law and justice system only reinforces one’s disbelief in the lack of reformation and remedial restoration. In fact, it is deeply sinking for women and girls who are otherwise raised by progressive families, who then find themselves in a position of crossroads when they step out of their homes – often caught in the juxtaposition between progression and orthodox traditionalism.

I say this with utmost pain and agony that working in a nonprofit organisation on issues of gender, particularly one that explores the height and depth of women’s safety in smart cities, the types of cases that surface and the pushback from the law and justice system only reinforces one’s disbelief in the lack of reformation and remedial restoration.

This report resonated with me as one of the feminist moments in the year because while women of the country hope to live in better times without much ado about their safety, as a part of a ‘civilized society’ there are way too many milestones to achieve and the path will be a long one to tread on. This, however, cannot be accomplished without the many stakeholders act together and in tandem in the creation of the perception of change towards the rightful dignity of women in society. Whether the report’s findings were accurate to the hilt or not, it definitely gave much food for thought and a need for a concrete plan of action with regard to the parameters of safety of women – within their homes, in public or at their workspaces.

Esha Chaudhuri, works for Centre for Social Research. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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