Does India really deserve to be on the 4th spot on this list?

I was part of a discussion on the BBC World Have Your Say which spoke about India being fourth on a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey on the most dangerous countries in the world to be a woman in.

I am a woman who have lived and worked all her life in a city like Mumbai. Maybe I am not representative of women as a whole in the country.

Yes, there are foeticides, there are dowry deaths, there are rapes and child brides. Yes, there is sex trafficking and minors forced into prostitution, which happens to be the criterion that played a major role to get us onto this honour list. Yes the gender ratio is so skewed now that I seriously think the next generation of Indians will have to adopt polyandry as a practical solution to the shortage of brides. Which, I think, would actually be a good thing, and slowly tilt us towards a matriarchal culture, well a girl can dream can’t she? Yes, the system is skewed towards patriarchy because that is how it has been for so many centuries. But to say that India is the fourth worst country in the world to be a woman? I would say that is stretching the truth a bit too far.

Here’s what the report says: LONDON (TrustLaw) – Violence, dismal healthcare and brutal poverty make Afghanistan the world’s most dangerous country for women, with Congo a close second due to horrific levels of rape, a Thomson Reuters Foundation expert poll said on Wednesday.

Pakistan, India and Somalia ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the global survey of perceptions of threats ranging from domestic abuse and economic discrimination to female foeticide, genital mutilation and acid attack

I grew up in a metro and I have traveled the length and breadth of the country and I do feel that yes, there is danger here if you are out in certain parts of the country beyond a certain time, but I hear horror stories of rapes, muggings and killings from all across the world. Thankfully I do have the freedom to move around by myself and do not need to be escorted by a male relative wherever I want to go. I am free to drive, to get an education, to pursue a career. But then, I am a girl from the metro. I do understand things are different in the rural areas. I do know that had I fallen in love with the spouse in rural Haryana, the khaps might have just ordered both of us dead, if my father and brother hadn’t killed me off before that.

On the flip, we have so many powerful women in business and politics. The corporate world has women at senior positions. Girls are outperforming boys in competitive exams.

But to be bracketed in the same category as Congo and Somalia, where genital mutilation is the norm, rapes by bayonets part of daily living, maternal health care so terrible that 50 per cent women dont make it past childbirth.

I have my issues with the methodology of the poll. Read more about it here: http://www.trust.org/trustlaw/news/trustlaw-poll-afghanistan-is-most-dangerous-country-for-women/

http://www.trust.org/documents/womens-rights/resources/2011WomenPoll-MethodologyandResultsSummary.pdf

213 so called gender experts spread across five continents donot make an adequate representation of ground reality.

Paradoxically, I feel coming at 4th spot might be a blessing in disguise. It might just be the wake up call the country needs and the government needs to get their act in place and get serious about tackling gender violence related issues.

What do you think? Do we really deserve to be at 4th spot? And what can we as individuals to try and move our country off this list? Any suggestions?

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About Kiran Manral

43 and battling flab, wrinkles and grey hair. Fighting a losing battle with the weighing scale. Living with the two loves of my life, my husband and my son. Serial buffet offender and reformed shopaholic.
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21 Responses to Does India really deserve to be on the 4th spot on this list?

  1. Swarna Rajagopalan says:

    I have two responses to this survey. First, as a public educator on this issue, I think if it’s got people talk about women’s security in any society, that’s a good thing. Something invisible is being made visible.
    But second, in the absence of a more detailed report than appears when you click on various things, I wonder at its methodology. I gather they first asked people to rank and then sought supporting data along 6-7 variables. That detracts from the report’s credibility even its intention is very good.
    Still, on balance, the more people talking about this, the better.
    As for ranking, it doesn’t matter. One woman unsafe in her home, on her way to work, or in the womb, is bad enough, as I know you agree!

    Like

    • Kiran Manral says:

      Agree, Swarna, if it gets people talking, aware and determined to change this I think I would be delighted too! And yes, we do have a lot to be ashamed of about the way we treat our women and girls.

      Like

  2. Now that u say- eeew same platform as afghanistan, congo….
    i dont think this analysis shud be done in a silo.

    according to me- scores are skewed.
    india cannot be taken as 1 entity becoz its so diverse

    Like

    • Kiran Manral says:

      Itchy: Precisely, rural India is like a different country by itself, and vast differences between north and south India.

      Like

  3. Reema Sahay says:

    Of course, that’s not the reality but as you said anything that brings attention to women’s security is always a welcome. And I have been thinking about this for a while now…all these dharnas and fasts for black money and corruption is alright but we would really like something to be done to crime against women. The way newspapers are filled with such appalling cases every day, disturbs me much, much more. People are taking it way too casually. They know they will get away with it! It is high time something gets done on this issue.

    Like

  4. sukanya says:

    agree with you and Swarna, wholeheartedly. frankly i was somewhat offended to see India’s ranking on this report and like you, I seriously question the research done.
    but having said that, this jolt is needed. it is an eye opener and i hope good things come out of this.
    we may not have genital mutilation but female infanticide is still a practice in many pockets and it reflects to some extent the desperate need for awareness, development and education on women’s safety and well being.

    Like

    • mockingbird says:

      Sukanya,
      According to the 43% of the “experts” India is dangerous for women health-wise because of Female Genital Mutilation. Wonder which of these “experts” cited this as a factor. This is a perception poll. Maybe a more accurate headline would have been, “India seen as the 5th most dangerous for women” but that would have made for fewer eyeballs. Remember, the results of this study were released to coincide with the launch of a website.

      Like

    • Kiran Manral says:

      True, we do have issues, and they need to be brought to the fore, and if it is the shock of seeing ourselves fourth on this list, so be it.

      Like

  5. neetu says:

    I agree, 4th and before somalia, doesnt sound right. a large population of indian women are literate and although we have to do more house chores than boys, I still think we are not as bad. The issue is that these reports dont get visibility in india and so nothing gets done about them, but they get visibility abroad and put us negative publicity.

    Like

  6. sj says:

    Hey Kiran,

    I don’t want to comment on the rankings because frankly speaking I don’t know how bad it is in other countries but I do believe that things have not changed a lot in the past 10 years in Bombay. When I used to go to college I used to always be on the look out for gropers, try to avoid crowded buses, trains. Walking down the streets fully clothed would still get me stares and catcalls. After living in the US for so long I kinda forgot that feeling… you could walk down in the shortest of skirts on the street and nobody would stare. On my trip back to Bombay this year I was again reminded of that feeling. I hope things would change and I think the power ultimately lies in us women (being mothers) to change the society.
    On another note, I am surprised at the many ‘educated’ Indians who come to the US and still prefer to have boys instead of girls.

    Like

    • Kiran Manral says:

      SJ: Dunno SJ, I live in Mumbai and I dont think the situation is as bad as you say, or well, maybe no one stares at me. LOL.
      But yes, there are gropers, there are molesters and rapists in every country. In Bombay you can, as a woman, travel safely at any point in the day and night, and I say this because I have done so and do so. About sex determination and foeticide, thats a big blot, which the government is trying hard to do away with, but cultural mores are too deeply entrenched.

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  7. Anjali says:

    I do agree with you in parts, but I also think that most urban Indian women are in denial about their state of affairs for women in their country .
    I too was born and raised in Mumbai, but I haven’t seen much of other parts of the country, but purely based on the stories one hears in the media, and such, I can understand why our ranking would be what it is.
    Indians like to live in a bubble, one which has a romanticized version of the country as opposed to what it is in reality, and anytime the bubble is burst, like this survey and being ranked just after countries like afghanistan and congo , it doesn’t do much for the ego of the country , but honestly I CAN’T say that it’s not accurate, or that India doesn’t deserve to be on that spot, i.e IMO, India does have a lotta bad record when it comes to women’s rights.
    Sure there are more and more educated women in the country, we see women in highest positions of power , but if we compare it too the overall population, this still is a small percentage of the overall population.
    The majority of women in India, face threats, even before they are born, they face a threat to their life, by way of female infanticide, rapes, murders, child prostitution, eve teasing, are rampant . Life in India isn’t safe for most women, other than urban, middle and upper class women.
    I just hope that this is the kick in the pants that India needs to wake up and make things better for it’s female population, but past history tells us, nothing substantial will change, atleast in the near future, let’s hope our daughters inherit a better place to live in, than we did .

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  8. Serendipity says:

    While I welcome the fact that we are discussing this issue; I am not concerned about the rankings; or being placed next to Congo/Somalia. That (no offense intended) is some misplaced sense of pride. The whole idea of the study is really besides the point as far as the discussion is concerned. We as a society have a problem controlling the violence/discrimination against women. We have to solve that problem…regardless of where we are on that list. It isn’t like we didn’t know we have issues till this list came along. I mean, if we were say 80th on that list, would we feel happy and wonder whether we need change at all!? It isn’t a contest and if we as Indians are offended at this list, then let us change our society and prove we are better…

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  9. Pingback: TrustLaw danger poll ignites global debate | Africa News

  10. Serendipity says:

    Btw, you should probably use this link:

    [audio src="http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/whys/whys_20110615-1236a.mp3" /]

    The other is simply the second podcast on the playlist that changes daily.

    Like

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