The women and child development ministry on Wednesday dismissed as “clearly inaccurate” a survey that ranked India the world’s most dangerous country for women, saying the report is based on perception of “unknown persons”.
A senior WCD official said the ministry has asked the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which conducted the survey, for details on the experts to ascertain the report’s authenticity, but no reply has been received as yet.
The Thomson Reuters Foundation, after a survey of about 550 experts on women’s issues, has ranked India the world’s most dangerous country for women, followed by war-torn Afghanistan and Syria, due to the high risk of sexual violence.
The WCD said the Reuters used a flawed methodology to arrive at the conclusion.
“The ranking is based on a perception poll based on responses to simply six questions. The results are not derived from any kind of data and are solely based on inherently subjective opinions,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Further, 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,” it said.
The methodology given by the organisation also includes ‘policy-makers’ as one of the respondents. However, no information or opinion has been sought from this ministry regarding this poll, it added.
“India is far ahead of many countries in most of these areas and has also seen significant improvement in indicators when compared with its own performance in previous years. Therefore, the ranking of India is a surprise and clearly inaccurate,” it said.
An Indian woman is in a much better position than a number of women in other countries around the world. Facts clearly show that the opinion of India as the most dangerous country for women is not a reflection of the reality, the statement said.
The poll 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.
The poll was a repeat of a survey in 2011 in which Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India, and Somalia were named as the most dangerous countries for women.
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, the foundation said in a statement.
The six questions posed as part of the poll cannot fairly be applied to all countries.
“For example the age bar for defining child marriage is different in every country, mutilation as a means of punishment, female genital mutilation, stoning etc. are not practised in India,” it said.
The ministry said that despite data to the contrary, the usage of an opinion poll to peg India as the most dangerous country for women is “clearly an effort to malign the nation and draw attention away from real improvements seen in recent years”.
“Ever since the unfortunate incident of 2012, the entire country has been alert about the safety of women and ensuring their equality at home, in the economy and in society at large. The government has been taking a lead in this direction,” the statement said, indicating the Nirbhaya gangrape case of December 16, nearly six years ago.
The National Commission for Women also rejected the survey, and said the countries that have been ranked after India have women who are not even allowed to speak in public.
The survey findings were used by the Congress to hit out at the government.