By Mrinal Chatterjee
India, where countless female deities are worshiped, and scriptures dictate women to be revered is ironically one of the worst countries in the world for a woman to live.
A Thomson Reuters Foundation expert poll showed on Wednesday that Afghanistan, Congo and Pakistan are the world's most dangerous countries for women due to a barrage of threats ranging from violence and rape to dismal healthcare and "honour killngs". India ranked fourth in the global perceptions survey by TrustLaw (www.trust.org/trustlaw), the Foundation's legal news service, followed by Somalia.
Female foeticide, child marriage and high levels of trafficking and domestic servitude make the world's largest democracy and one of the fastest growing economy the fourth most dangerous place for women, the poll showed. Up to 50 million girls are "missing" over the past century due to female infanticide and foeticide. That is one of reasons of the dipping sex ratio in India, which has caused alarm in several North Indian states. Almost half (44.5 per cent) of girls are married before the age of 18, the legally binding minimum age for marriage. This causes high maternal mortality and host of other physiological and sociological problems. Trafficking is another big problem. About 100 million people, mostly women and girls, are involved in trafficking in one way or another.
TrustLaw asked 213 gender experts from five continents to rank countries by overall perceptions of danger as well as by six risks: health threats, sexual violence, non-sexual violence, cultural or religious factors, lack of access to resources and trafficking.
The situation is alarming. It warrants urgent attention and concrete steps at every level. Women must get an opportunity to survive and grow to their fullest potential. Only then the country can achieve inclusive holistic growth.
(For more on the poll, including info-graphics, pictures and analysis, visit http://dangerpoll.trust.org)