Thomson Reuters report indicts India as World Rape Capital, Govt debunks it as “subjective”
New Delhi: June 28: The most raging debate in India at the moment is not the Muslim ban or the Mob lynchings that have claimed over 1000 lives so far due to rumours on Social Media. It is the controversial Thomson Reuters Foundation, a London-based charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. The Foundation on Tuesday released a list of countries which are perceived as most unsafe for women. The list puts India at the top, ahead of war-torn countries like Afghanistan (2nd), Syria (3rd) and Somalia. The list, which was prepared based on the views of 548 experts on women issues, was both surprising and shocking. Many of the Indian netizens have called for introspection and some criticized the survey saying it is biased.
Also Read | India Most Dangerous Country For Women: Survey
The National Commission for Women (NCW), India’s apex body which looks into women’s rights and security, has rejected the survey outright saying “the sample size is too small and it can’t be held as representative of the entire country.”
In a press statement , the NCW Chief Rekha Sharma said she cannot believe that India’s is the worst countries for women considering there are many countries where the situation is even worse. She further said, “The countries that have been ranked after India have women who are not even allowed to speak in public.”
Even as she angrily rejected the damaging Thomson Foundation report a A seven-year-old girl was raped, brutally assaulted and left to die in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh with her throat slit and multiple injuries. A 20-year-old Canadian national has reported a rape plaint against the manager of the hotel where she was staying, and the daughter of a lady constable in Aurangabad has accused a Deputy Commissioner of Police of befriending her and then raping her on a number of occasions under duress.
Government sources have put down the report as a “subjective opinion poll” and doubted its credibility. In a detailed statement the Women and Child Development Minister of India, has questioned the reliability of the poll as the Foundation has selected 548 women whom they refuse to identify but who are cited as experts on women’s issues as the sample on whom the report is based. “Despite data to the contrary, the usage of an opinion poll…is clearly an effort to malign the nation,” a statement from the Minister stated. The government has stressed that in fact incidences of child marriages have gone down, Teenage pregnancy figures have also dropped to less than 8%–half of the earlier figure. Per cent, the Minister’s statement cited.
It also went on to say that percentage of rapes per 1000 women in India was just 0.03 as against the US figures of 1.2 rapes per 1000 women.
In 2011, Thomson Reuters Foundation has carried out the same survey where India was ranked fourth. Seven years back, the survey had listed Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India, and Somalia as the top five unsafe countries. This year survey was expanded to ten countries among 193 United Nations member states.
The report looked at if the situation of women has improved in comparison to 2011 when it comes to healthcare, discrimination, customary practices, sexual violence, non-sexual violence and human trafficking.
The list of experts was compiled from a database of women’s rights experts created by Thomson Reuters Foundation team. The experts were asked to list countries on the basis of the six categories.
The 548 experts from Europe, Africa, the Americas, South East Asia, South Asia and the Pacific, were contacted by phone or in-person. The idea behind having experts from each continent to have fair representation from both developing and developed countries.
Why Is India On The List?
India is the only country which got listed in all the six categories. It ranked first in three of the categories – 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.
India ranked fourth in healthcare access for women and third in discrimination faced by women in terms of job, education, owning of land and inheritance.
Monique Villa, chief executive officer, Thomson Reuters Foundation, in her blog has said that the perception results are backed by statistics and added there is a rape almost every 20 minutes in India, and a crime against women every three minutes.
In an interview to Indiaspend, she said, “When only 10% of women in India own land compared to 20% globally, femicide rates are the highest in the world, there are 37 million more men than women in the Indian population, and 27% of girls are married before the age of 18 – also the highest rate in the world- you begin to understand the reality in India.”
The reports say that a country of 1.3 billion population and where the economy is booming, India has failed to do enough for its women. Rape culture has become endemic and patriarchy is one of the reasons for the deplorable condition of women. Even though 2012 Nirbhaya rape created outrage and change in the law, the situation has not changed for the better, instead, it seems to have become worse.