India has been deemed as the most dangerous nation for sexual violence against women in the world, followed by Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, according to a new Thompson Reuters Foundation survey.
Nine of the 10 countries on the list were from Asia, the Middle East or Africa. The United States ranking 10th most dangerous was the only western country in the top 10 countries.
The survey which based its results on 550 experts on women's issues, found India, where according to data four rape cases are reported every hour, to be highly risky for women when considering sexual violence, human trafficking for domestic work, forced labor, forced marriage and sexual slavery, stoning, and female infanticide, among others.
The survey respondents were asked which of the 193 United Nations member states they considered 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.
India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development declined to comment on the survey results, Reuters reported.
"India has shown utter disregard and disrespect for women ... rape, marital rapes, sexual assault and harassment, female infanticide has gone unabated,"
"The (world's) fastest growing economy and leader in space and technology is shamed for violence committed against women," Manjunath Gangadhara, an official at the Karnataka state government in southwest India, told the Reuters.
“People want to think income means you’re protected from misogyny, and sadly that’s not the case,” said Cindy Southworth, executive vice president of the Washington-based National Network to End Domestic Violence, according to Reuters. “We are going to look back and see this as a very powerful tipping point ... We’re blowing the lid off and saying ‘#Metoo and Time’s Up’.”
The elaborate survey cited acid attacks, female genital mutilation, child marriage and physical abuse as it labeled the country the most dangerous for practicing cultural traditions adversely impacting the women. The same survey had ranked the South Asian country fourth most dangerous seven years ago.
"World leaders vowed three years ago to eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls by 2030, allowing them to live freely and safely to participate equally in political, economic and public life. But despite this pledge, it is estimated that one in three women globally experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime," the foundation stated, according to CNN.
"Child marriage is still rife, with almost 750 million women and girls married before their 18th birthday, resulting in teen pregnancies that can put their health at risk and limiting schooling and opportunities."
The news comes at a time when the country led by the right-wing Modi government has seen a stark rise in rape cases and sexual violence against women. The recent rape and brutal murder of Asifa Bano followed by other underage girls jolted the nation's collective consciousness as tens of thousands of people nationwide took to streets demanding justice, also reinforcing the issue of sexual violence back on the national agenda.
Modi who is expected to seek re-election next year, spoke out against sexual violence in April, asserting that rape "is a matter of great concern for the country." But no significant measures have been taken yet to counter the grave issue.
Responding to the grim news, opposition party leader Rahul Gandhi also criticized Modi's callous approach to the issue.
"While our PM tiptoes around his garden making Yoga videos, India leads Afghanistan, Syria & Saudi Arabia in rape & violence against women," tweeted Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress, referring to Modi's recent participation in an online fitness trend.
The surveyors ranked the war-torn Afghanistan second worst country for non-sexual violence against women, including conflict-related violence and domestic abuse. It also ranked second worst for access to healthcare and access to economic resources and discrimination.