Activists not happy with govt reaction to safety report

Data says India dangerous for women

PTI file photo for representation.

Leading women activists are upset with the Modi government’s response to the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s claim that India is the world's most dangerous country for women.

Kavita Krishnan, the Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association, was approached by Reuters for the study but declined to participate because she did not agree with the methodology. Krishnan also disagrees with the government.

“Government is trying to make us feel good by saying that it can't be that bad but this is a false confirmation. The situation is actually worsening in some areas. For instance, the attack on women’s autonomy and attacks on women’s right to choose a partner. There is much more organised violence against them.”

Listen to Kavita (part 2)

Miriam Dhawale, the general secretary of All India Democratic Women's Association says that while she hasn’t rigorously examined the report, she feels that insecurity for women is on the rise.  

Listen to Miriam (Part 1)

“ As a women’s organisation, we have been handling cases and there has been a spurt in violence against women in the last few years and especially against girl children. Increase in moral policing, harassment, honour killings, rapes and gang rapes, incidents of stalking and obsessive violent behaviour, there is no doubt about it. The situation is very bad.”
 

Listen to Miriam (Part 2)

Dhawale also called out the callous behaviour of politicians in dealing with women’s issues.  

“No one is condemning or commenting on such incidents, instead, they themselves (ministers and politicians) are standing in support of rapists today. And this sends a strong message,“ she said, adding that a nationwide protest will be organised in Delhi on Sept. 4.  

Listen to Miriam (Part 3)

Geeta Menon, head of Stree Jasgruthi Samiti, a leading women’s rights group in Bengaluru agrees and says that the fear and anxiety is palpable and evident in everyday conversations.

Listen to Geeta

“Even if you don’t do research or read the research and just go amongst women, go among communities, in villages, to Dalit areas, you’ll observe their fear. I ’ve had an example of a girl coming from Tamil Nadu to Bangalore because she said that she was being abused in school and other examples where girls complained of harassment while commuting to work. We also hear about these incidents in our talk with unions, conversations about how women are fearing for the safety of their children. It is not something that should come up so often. When you talk about a job after 12th, then the mother always worries. Should I send her? How far is it? How will she come back? Are there people that are going together? These concerns sum up in a sharp way, that it is very evident in your life today. The fear has become part of their life.“

Beyond feelings and anecdotes; What does the data say?

Contradictory data from two different but valid sources suggests a skewed picture of reality.  

For instance, a Livemint article uses National Family Health Survey data of interviews of more than 700,000 women in 2015-16 and says that the proportion of women who were victims of sexual violence has decreased from 5.6% in 2005 to 4.4% in 2015.  

The article claims to debunk the biases in the Reuters report by claiming that better reporting of crimes in recent years may have “coloured the perception of the global experts surveyed by Thomson Reuters Foundation,” but it does not engage with data on parameters other than sexual violence.

Those other parameters include female genital mutilation, child and forced marriage, physical abuse and female infanticide/foeticide, female labour participation rate and human trafficking, including domestic servitude, forced labour and forced marriage.

Defending the women safety report, Monique Villa, chief executive officer, Thomson Reuters Foundation, told IndiaSpend:

“When only 10% of women in India own land compared to 20% globally, femicide rates are the highest in the world, there are 37 million more men than women in the Indian population, and 27% of girls are married before the age of 18 - the highest rate in the world - you begin to understand the reality in India.”

National Crime Records Bureau data on sexual violence, analysed by IndiaSpend, also suggests that crimes against women have been on an upward trajectory. Compared to 21 crimes against women reported every hour in 2007, the number has increased to 39 in 2016.  
 

The rate of crimes against women (crimes per 100,000 female population) has jumped from 41.7 in 2012 to 55.2 in 2016.

 

The report also pointed out that the conviction rate for crimes against women was the lowest in the past decade - down to 18.9% in 2016 from 29% in 2007.

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Activists not happy with govt reaction to safety report

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