Though stung by the global survey, the tourism ministry has sent a letter to heads of Indian missions, highlighting a series of initiatives the country has taken to promote women’s safety. The July 6, 2018 letter from the Tourism Secretary has challenged the survey pointing out that “results have not been derived from any kind of proper data and are solely based on the subjective opinion of 548 respondents who have been defined by Reuters as experts focused on women’s issues”.
As per the survey the war-torn Afghanistan and Syria ranked second and third in the Thomson Reuters Foundation survey of about 550 experts on women’s issues, followed by Somalia and Saudi Arabia. The only western nation in the top 10 was the United States, which ranked joint third when respondents were asked where women were most at risk of sexual violence, harassment and being coerced into sex. Experts said India moving to the top of poll showed not enough was being done to tackle the danger women faced, more than five years after the rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi made violence against women a national priority.
The survey asked respondents which five of the 193 United Nations member states they thought were most dangerous for women and which country was worst in terms of healthcare, economic resources, cultural or traditional practices, sexual violence and harassment, non-sexual violence and human trafficking. Respondents also ranked India the most dangerous country for women in terms of human trafficking, including sex slavery and domestic servitude, and for customary practices such as forced marriage, stoning and female infanticide.
While India faired poorly in this survey, experts said the surprise addition of the United States in the top 10 most dangerous countries for women came down to the #MeToo and Time’s Up campaigns against sexual harassment and violence that have dominated headlines for months. India, Libya and Myanmar were considered the world’s most dangerous nations for women exploited by human traffickers in a global crime worth an estimated $150 billion a year. The poll of 548 people was conducted online, by phone and in person between March 26 and May 4 with an even spread across Europe, Africa, the Americas, South East Asia, South Asia and the Pacific. Respondents included aid professionals, academics, healthcare staff, non-government organisation workers, policy-makers, development specialists and social commentators.
The world’s most dangerous countries for women
According to the survey:
5. Saudi Arabia
7. Democratic Republic of Congo
10. United States