India ranked most dangerous country for women, worse than war-torn countries: Is the tag really far-fetched?


Name withheld on request | July 10, 2018

Recently, a survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation has ranked India as the world's most dangerous place to be a woman. According to the survey of about 550 global experts, India beat even war-torn Afghanistan and Syria to be the worst place for women. 

Out of the six different indices – healthcare, discrimination, cultural traditions, sexual and non-sexual violence, and human trafficking- that countries were surveyed on, India topped three: sexual violence, cultural traditions and human trafficking.

It does take us by surprise to see nations like Syria, where women are held captive as sex slaves by ISIS jihadis ranked below the largest democracy in the world, one where, women's rights are comparatively better than the ones in disturbed countries. The National Commission for Women also denounced the survey questioning how countries where women could not speak out had done better than India. They also pointed out that the number of rape and sexual violence cases against women have risen because more cases are being reported.

Be that as it may, does the tag 'most dangerous place for women' really seem that far-fetched? Women in war-torn and disturbed countries have no access to education, proper health facilities, face religious discrimination and are constant victims of sexual violence; but they do not live in the world's largest democracy – one with a fully functioning democratic government with ample resources and power to protect its women, one that is not war-torn and far from being impoverished and one that claims that it is constitutional.

This is why the tag is so frightening: just like the US (which is at 10th place), women are still brutalised and with great impunity for criminals and offenders, despite being democracies. India's society still resorts to victim-blaming and shaming despite their educational freedoms. In Saudi Arabia, there is no penal code and no written law which specifically criminalises rape. India now has one and yet incidences of sexual violence are higher than ever. India still has no national registry for sex offenders that will facilitate state governments and their respective police forces to share information. Women and girls are still widely considered to be second-class citizens and sexual objects.

An article of The Guardian quotes Maini Mahanta, the editor of the Assamese women's magazine Nandini as saying, "In this part of the world, it's worse than the Taliban. At least the Taliban are open about what they like and dislike. Here, society is so hypocritical. We worship female goddesses and yet fail to protect women from these crimes and then blame them too." It's the confidence with which we say and believe our women are safe and respected that is worrying.

There is no denial of the progress India has made when it comes to women's societal status: there are more open conversations about taboo subjects that have haunted India for centuries.

Sure, global rankings as such don't necessarily help and are not entirely convincing as violence against women is a global concern. But they do help in putting things into perspective: that India, while having progressed, still has a lot of work to be done.

Instead of denial and methodology denouncement, we should instead accept the statistics or facts for what they are and start working towards a safer, better India.

DISCLAIMER: The opinion expressed in the article belongs to the writer and TNT- The Northeast Today may not subscribe to the same views

Featured image courtesy: The Indian Express

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