An annual poll conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation titled ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Countries for Women’ ranks India at number one, with Syria, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Somalia also in the top five.
The results were based on interviews conducted with women across six key areas, namely healthcare, discrimination, cultural traditions, sexual violence, non-sexual violence and human trafficking. Nations were graded on a scale of 1 to 10 on the basis of how women were affected by these six factors, with 10 being the highest a country could score.
When it came to healthcare, India scored just four, with many people concerned by the lack of facilities available to tackle maternal mortality and a general lack of access to healthcare services. Another issue was the lack of control over reproductive health, and an inability to tackle HIV/AIDS.
India scored three on the discrimination front. Many people were worried about job discrimination, an inability to make a livelihood, discriminatory land, property or inheritance rights, a lack of access to education and a lack of access to adequate nutrition.
“India was named as the most dangerous country for women after coming fourth in the same survey seven years ago,” said the report. “The world’s second most populous nation, with 1.3 billion people, ranked as the most dangerous on three of the topic questions – the risk of sexual violence and harassment against women, the danger women face from cultural, tribal and traditional practices, and the country where women are most in danger of 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 gang-rape and murder of a student on a bus in New Delhi,” added the report. “As India’s rape epidemic gets worse by the year, critics have pointed fingers at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for not doing enough to protect women.”
But the worst marks for India came across the sectors of culture and religion, sexual violence and human trafficking.
Acid attacks, female genital mutilation, child marriage, forced marriage, punishment through stoning and/or physical abuse and mutilation, and female infanticide and foeticide were among the reasons given for India’s low cultural and religious scores, while when it came to sexual violence, many women were understandably afraid about including rape as a weapon, as well as domestic sexual assaults.
They were also concerned about being raped by strangers, and most importantly, the lack of access to justice in rape cases, particularly when it came to sexual harassment and being forced into immoral activities as a form of corruption.
India’s reasons for being given just a single mark when it came to human trafficking were because of the dangers of domestic servitude, forced labour, forced marriage and bonded labour. The country also scored just three marks on the topic of non-sexual violence, because of the anxieties around conflict-related violence and the many forms of domestic and physical abuse.
The 10 most unsafe countries in the world for women were, in order, India, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, DR Congo, Yemen, Nigeria and the United States.
“Seven years ago a Thomson Reuters Foundation experts’ survey found the five most dangerous countries for women were seen to be Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India, and Somalia,” added the report. “This year we set out to see if the situation had changed. We wanted to find out whether more was being done to address the overall risks faced by women, and specifically regarding healthcare, access to economic resources, customary practices, sexual violence, non-sexual violence and human trafficking. We expanded our poll to the 10 most dangerous countries with some surprising results.
“World leaders vowed three years ago to eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls by 2030, allowing them to live freely and safely to participate equally in political, economic and public life,” said the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “But despite this pledge it is estimated that one in three women globally experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime. Child marriage is still rife, with almost 750 million women and girls married before their 18th birthday, resulting in teen pregnancies that can put their health at risk and limiting schooling and opportunities.”