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Despite all its schemes for girls and women which claim to better their lives, and our ‘goddess worship’ claims, India remains the most dangerous place for women in the world.
India has recently been found out to be the most dangerous place in the world for women according to the Thomas Reuters Foundation Annual Poll 2018.
The foundation conducted a global perception poll of experts in women’s issues with the purpose of highlighting the most dangerous countries for women.
In their earlier poll in 2011 the five most dangerous countries for women were found out to be Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India, and Somalia. India ranked 4thmost dangerous back then.
What it means for Indian women and parents of girls like me is that we are becoming an increasingly unsafe society for girls and women. India’s so called feats in space or economy has done little to safeguard the interests of almost half of its population that remains vulnerable, exploited and discriminated against.
Countries like Somalia, Yemen and Congo that are economically worse of and have more political turmoil are also doing better than us, though if we are setting our bar so low for women’s rights, is another point to introspect.
India has several fancy Government slogans and schemes like “Beti bachao, Beti padhao”,”Matr Shakti, Rashtr Shakti”, “Ujjwala” but in actual public place, workplaces and homes women still remain violently pushed to the margins even strongly than ever before.
Our close neighbour Pakistan has ranked as the sixth most dangerous country for women after coming third in the 2011 poll, which means some conditions have improved there. This is being credited to more Pakistani women in public offices, an active civil society and stronger action against sexual violence.
In Pakistan one of the major factors remains ‘honour killings’ – which is related to eloping, fraternizing with men or any infringement of conservative values regarding women by fundamentalists there. In India the same situation might be true though less socially pronounced.
We have polished our skills as a society in ‘benevolent sexism’, in sexual hypocrisy and in hiding everything under our public glorification of women as goddesses. India is also a large market for self-defence classes, pepper spray, safety apps and a variety of covered clothing because we teach our women not to get raped rather than teaching our men not to rape!
Women across India – from professionals in swanky corporate towers to those doing menial jobs in middle-class homes, women toiling in farms and/or factories – face huge danger of sexual violence and harassment each day and the additional taboo and stigma of ever speaking against it if it happens to you.
We have become so adept at victim blaming that we might grant ourselves the rare distinction of being masters in conspiracy of silence around gender crimes.
The factors the Thomson Reuters poll takes into account to reach these conclusions are:
In the first category i.e. healthcare, India ranked fourth worse, regarding economic discrimination and non-sexual violence third worse, and shockingly in culture and customs, sexual violence and human trafficking India ranked on top as the worst.
So this means situation in India has worsened in terms of acid attacks, female genital mutilation, child marriage; forced marriage, stoning, physical abuse or mutilation as a form of punishment/retribution and female infanticide.
It also indicates sexual violence is on the rise in terms of rape as a weapon of war, domestic rape, and rape by a stranger, the lack of access to justice in rape cases, sexual harassment and coercion into sex as a form of corruption.
The human trafficking scenario is no good too and practices like domestic servitude, forced labour; bonded labour, forced marriage and sexual slavery have worsened for women it implies.
Their detailed report about India suggests that India has jumped ahead of war-torn Afghanistan and Syria which ranked second and third respectively in this survey. The only Western country in the top 10 is the United States mainly due to sexual violence, coerced sex and harassment.
“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.”
Image source: shutterstock
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Pooja Priyamvada is a columnist, professional translator and an online content and Social Media consultant.
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