In a study by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, India has been named the world's most dangerous country for women. Being ranked the worst in the world " even below Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and Somalia " is a significant drop for India, which was ranked the fourth most dangerous country for women in the same survey seven years ago.
The parameters the foundation used to judge women's safety include the overall risks women, specifically in the fields of healthcare, economic resources and discrimination, cultural, tribal, religious or customary practices, sexual violence and harassment, non-sexual violence and human trafficking. In all, 759 experts in women's issues studied the survey, of which came 548 responses. The survey looked at 193 United Nations member nations.
On why it ranked India the worst, Thomson Reuters said the world's second-most populous country rated poorly on three main fronts " risks of sexual violence and harassment, dangers from cultural, tribal and traditional practices and human trafficking, including forced labour, sex slavery and domestic servitude.
"Violence against women in India has caused national and international outrage and protests since the 2012 gangrape and murder of a student on a bus in New Delhi," the report said. "As India's rape epidemic gets worst by the year, critics have pointed fingers at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government for not doing enough to protect women."
The foundation also identified six key parameters where India fared poorly.
Healthcare: Healthcare includes access to specialist doctors like optometrists and dentists with expertise in treating diseases and dealing with trauma. India was ranked the fourth worst on healthcare, only above Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia.
Gender discrimination: This includes discrimination in employment, an inability to make a livelihood, discriminatory land, property or inheritance rights, lack of access to education and lack of access to adequate nutrition. On this front, India was ranked the third worst, behind Saudi Arabia and bottom-placed Afghanistan. Pakistan and Bangladesh also featured in the top 10.
Cultural traditions: It is this parametre that affected India's position the most. India was ranked the worst country in the world for women as far as cultural traditions are concerned, even worse than Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The researchers examined cases of acid attacks, female genital mutilation, child marriages, forced marriages, stoning, physical abuse and mutilation as forms of punishment or retribution, as well as female infanticide.
Sexual violence: India was also the worst-ranked State in terms of sexual violence, which includes rape as a "weapon of war". It also includes domestic rape, incidentally something that the Supreme Court had ruled cannot be considered a criminal offence. It includes lack of access to justice in a rape case, sexual harassment and coercion into sex "as a form of corruption". While the Democratic Republic of Congo was ranked the second-worst, the United States surprisingly came in third from bottom.
Non-sexual violence: This includes violence against women, but only those cases that don't fall under the category of sexual crimes. They include domestic, physical and mental abuse. India was the third-worst country in the world, only behind Syria and Afghanistan. The US was in the sixth position.
Human trafficking: Thomson Reuters defined human trafficking as "domestic servitude, bonded labour, forced labour, forced marriage and sexual slavery". This is another criteria that critically hurt India " the country fared poorly on this front, being ranked the worst in the world behind Libya, Myanmar, Nigeria and Russia. Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan also rank in the bottom 10. Libya, Nigeria and Russia were the only non-Asian countries in the list, which also included the Philippines, Thailand and Afghanistan.
With inputs from Reuters