Sexual harassment and assault

India ranked as the most risky country for women? Why survey report reeks of bias

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 June, 2018, 10:34am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 June, 2018, 10:33am

I refer to the Thomson Reuters survey report published by you on June 26 (“India most dangerous country for women as sexual violence is rife, says global poll”).

It is a shame if even a single woman is harmed. As a nation, we stand as one against the reported increase in sexual assaults on women. We do not deny the problem, in fact, we hang our heads in shame when any such incident occurs. But to say that India is the most dangerous country for women is preposterous.

I question the very basis of the opinion of the 550 experts polled. How many of them have travelled to India? How many of them have visited the cities and villages, walked the bazaars, been into workplaces, eaten at the restaurants and pubs, gone into a cinema hall, watched a cricket game? If they had, they would see a perfectly normal and safe environment for everyone, irrespective of gender.

Just as in every city, and in every country, there are pockets with problems; so there are in India, too.

Five charity workers abducted and gang-raped in India

Even one such incident is one too many and I will never trivialise this horrific crime. I would, however, like to put the numbers quoted in your article in perspective.

The article says that four rapes were reported every hour in India. With a population of 1.2 billion and estimating about a 50 per cent gender split, and then removing 30 per cent of the balance below the age of 15, this figure translates to about 35,000 cases of rape per year among 420 million women over 15. Less than one in every 10,000 women. How does this compare with every other country in the world?

The UN Commission on the Status of Women reports that around 120 million girls worldwide (slightly more than one in 10) have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives. And 23 per cent of female undergraduate students reported having experienced sexual assault or sexual misconduct in a survey across 27 US universities in 2015.

I reiterate that I am not for a moment condoning the numbers or the crime. It is a problem and we need to not only speak up but do something about it. What I point out is that the poll reeks of bias without really comparing statistics of all countries.

Anuraag Bhatnagar, president, Forum of Indian Professionals Hong Kong