Sexual violence in India
The most dangerous country for women
With more than 100 rapes per day, India tops the list of the most dangerous countries in the world for women. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by the Thomson Reuters foundation. The study about sexual violence in India caused an international media buzz and was featured in many media outlets such as Indiatoday, Al-Jazeera, QZ.com, BBC, even CNN or German newspapers such as Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and many more.
It has only been a few days since a particularly gruesome news startled the whole of India: five anti-trafficking activists were abducted by armed men in broad daylight in the East Indian state of Jharkhand, taken to a forest and raped for hours. But cases like this are just the tip of the iceberg and happen on a daily base.
More than 100 rapes per day in India
Every day, more than 100 rapes are reported to the police in India. In the years from 2007 to 2016, the number has increased by 83 percent. The dark figure is likely to be much higher. India holds a sad world record in this area, which is why the country performs so poorly in the Thomson Reuters study. 548 people participated in this survey, worldwide experts including government officials, scientists, development workers, physicians and journalists.
“The numbers are bad,” says Manasi Mishra of the Center for Social Research of India. The women’s rights activist has been dealing with the problem of violence for years. As one of the reasons for the high number of rapes she calls out the male surplus in Indian society. “There are only 800 girls per 1000 boys, which is because far too many parents abort girls. Tey are seen as inferior and threatening cost aspect because the parents of the bride are to pay for the extremely expensive weddings.”
However, when young men do not find women because of the gross miscarriage of the sexes, the pent-up frustration often erupts in sexual violence. The Indian government has tried a lot in recent years to get the problem under control. Doctors are forbidden to tell pregnant women the gender of the child. Also the punishment for rape was drastically increased. Since April 2018, men who rape children under the age of twelve even face death penalty.
Still, Mishra finds it unfair to call India the most dangerous country for women. “The women in India are becoming more self-confident and the social climate is improving.” Even the high increase in official rape numbers are an indication she says. “Significantly more women report these crimes now, as they know that the perpetrators will be punished.” Still sexual violence in India remains obviously a massive issue.
Afghanistan and Syria are the countries that follow India according to the Thomson Reuters study. Reasons here are above all war-related acts of violence that make life so dangerous for women. In Afghanistan, the situation is worsening, especially in the areas that are dominated by the Taliban. “In the meantime, suicide bombers and so-called collateral damage during combat operations are the third leading cause of death for women,” the study cites Afghan Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz. The country is forced to spend the tight health budget for treatment of war injuries rather than investing in maternal health programs.
Surprisingly, the US is the only western country on the list of the most dangerous countries for women. They got the tenth place, just behind Nigeria and Yemen. The authors of the study justify it with the #metoo movement. It has shown that there is discrimination and sexual violence even in socially and economically advanced countries.
Having the US being part of the list of dangerous countries for women does not make it better though.
A sentence that would also be signed by the Indian women’s rights activist Manasi Mishra. “It’s a Herculean task to make the world safer for women, and that’s not just about us here in India,” she says.