Everyone sensed it and now it official. Despite the economic and technological progress that is taking place in India, it has been voted as the most dangerous country for women, followed by the war-torn Afghanistan and Syria in the Thomson Reuters Foundation survey of about 550 experts on women’s issues.
What makes India most dangerous is the high risk of sexual violence and being forced into slave labour, according to a poll of global experts released on Tuesday.
The only western nation in the top 10 was the United States, which ranked joint third when respondents were asked where women were most at risk of sexual violence, harassment and being coerced into sex. The fourth and fifth place was secured by Somalia and Saudi Arabia. The others in the ten most dangerous countries for women are Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen and Nigeria.
Experts said the surprise addition of the United States in the top 10 most dangerous countries for women came down to the #MeToo and Time’s Up campaigns against sexual harassment and violence that have dominated headlines for months.
“People want to think income means you’re protected from misogyny, and sadly that’s not the case,” Cindy Southworth, executive vice president of the Washington-based National Network to End Domestic Violence, told mediapersons.
“We are going to look back and see this as a very powerful tipping point … We’re blowing the lid off and saying ‘#Metoo and Time’s Up’.”
It is unfortunate that India has moved to the top of the list from 2011 when the poll was last conducted. In 2011 the same poll found Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India, and Somalia as the most dangerous countries for women.
Experts said India moving to the top of poll showed not enough was being done to tackle the danger women faced, more than five years after the rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi made violence against women a national priority.
“India has shown utter disregard and disrespect for women … rape, marital rapes, sexual assault and harassment, female infanticide has gone unabated,” said Manjunath Gangadhara, a Karnataka government official. “The (world’s) fastest growing economy and leader in space and technology is shamed for violence committed against women.”
Government data shows reported cases of crime against women rose by 83 percent between 2007 and 2016, when there were four cases of rape reported every hour.
The survey asked respondents which five of the 193 United Nations member states they thought were most dangerous for women and which country was worst in terms of healthcare, economic resources, cultural or traditional practices, sexual violence and harassment, non-sexual violence and human trafficking.
Respondents also ranked India the most dangerous country for women in terms of human trafficking, including sex slavery and domestic servitude, and for customary practices such as forced marriage, stoning and female infanticide.
India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development declined to comment on the survey results, according to media reports.
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