A Thomson Reuters Foundation report revealed that India is the most unsafe country for women, a claim they have since stood by.
The foundation released their latest report in an attempt to follow up with previous findings of the same nature that they released in 2011. In 2011, their report concluded that the five most dangerous countries for women at the time were Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India, and Somalia. The foundation claimed that they wanted to see if anything had changed in the seven years since their last report.
They consulted with 548 experts in various relevant fields including aid and development professionals, health workers, academics, policymakers, journalists, and non-government organization workers.
Their information concluded that India was ranked the worst country when it came to cultural traditions (such as acid attacks, child marriage, female genital mutilation, and physical abuse as punishment), sexual violence, and human trafficking. Afghanistan was ranked the worst when it came to healthcare, discrimination, and non-sexual violence.
However, Maneka Gandhi of the Union Minister of Women and Child Development in India questioned the foundation about why the ministry wasn’t consulted. In a statement they said, “The poll has been conducted with 548 respondents, which have been defined by Reuters as ‘experts focused on women’s issues.’ However, information on their designation, credentials, country of expertise or qualifications is not available, thus reliability is an issue. The methodology given by the organisation also includes ‘policymakers’ as one of the respondents. However, no information or opinion has been sought from this ministry regarding the poll.”
Additionally, Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore tweeted on June 27 that he was ashamed of Congress for using the report and slandering Indians. “The #WomenSafetyReport being used by Congress to slander billions of Indians thereby trying to damage our reputation globally, is a ‘Perception Based’ survey, afar from any solid facts or numbers. Ashamed of the Congress,” he wrote.
In the midst of the criticism, First Post interviewed the Thomson Reuters Foundation, who defended their report. “All respondents work in the field of women’s issues: A range of aid and development professionals, academics, health workers, policymakers, non-government organisation workers, journalists and social commentators. The list was compiled from a database of women’s rights experts built by the Thomson Reuters Foundation team.”
It’s hard not to see the staggering numbers of sexual assault in India, however. A 2016 report from the National Crime Records Bureau revealed that the majority of sexual assaults were committed by someone in the victim’s family.
The Times of India reported that in 2016, 38,947 sexual assault cases were reported throughout the year. They also reported that in 2016 there were over 100 assaults in one day and of those victimized, 2,116 of them were between the ages of 0-12.