Centre dismisses report on women's safety in India

Centre dismisses report on women's safety in India

As a political row erupted over a recent report that positioned India as one of the most dangerous countries for women in the world, the Modi government on Wednesday dismissed the Thomson Reuters Foundation's claim, saying it was based on "a perception poll to malign" the image of the country.

India was ranked number one in an experts' survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation to find out the world's most dangerous countries for women "due to the high risk of sexual violence and being forced into slave labor."

"The Thomson Reuters Foundation has proclaimed India as the most dangerous country for women. 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," the Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry said, issuing a clarification.

The results of the survey are not derived from "any kind of data" and are "solely based on inherently subjective opinions," the ministry 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 ministry added.

The ministry noted that though the methodology given by the organisation also includes "policymakers" as one of the respondents, the Thomson Reuters Foundation did not seek "any information or opinion" from it (WCD ministry) with regard to the "perception poll."

"The six questions posed as part of the poll cannot fairly be applied to all countries. For exmaple, 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 practiced in India," the ministry added.

The Congress, however, attacked the Modi government on the issue, saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had crticised the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) referring to the findings of a similar survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in 2013 when he was the chief minister of Gujarat.

“Referring to the report which had then placed India on fourth position, Modi ji had tweeted asking as to when women would feel secured. Will Modi ji once again tweet on the basis of the latest report of the same organisation now," Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi asked at a press conference here.

The ministry, however, said that India is today "far ahead of many countries" in most of the areas pertaining to healthcare, discrimination, cultural traditions, sexual violence, non-sexual violence and human trafficking.

"Therefore, the ranking of India is a surprise and clearly inaccurate," it added.

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