Image source: Reuters
By Kelly Hughes | @KellyHughes96
War-torn countries including Afghanistan and Syria were ranked second and third, followed by Somalia and Saudi Arabia, in a survey conducted by global experts from the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The report found women in India were at high risk of sexual violence, harassment, forced labor, sex slavery and domestic servitude.
It also found a large part of violence against women stemmed from tribal, cultural and traditional practices that affect women, such as acid attacks, female genital mutilation and child marriage.
Government data revealed the national priority of violence against women, as crimes rose by 83 per cent between 2007 and 2016, showing four cases of rape reported every hour.
The report determined India as the worst offender in the world based on how rape is used as a weapon of war, rape occurs in a domestic context as well as amongst strangers, the lack of access to justice in rape cases, and sexual harassment and coercion into sex as a form of corruption.
The only western nation to appear in the top ten was the US, which tied third with Syria, however respondents argued this was largely to do with the rise of the #metoo movement and the increased reports of sexual assault.
Manjunath Gangadhara, an official with the Karnataka state government told Reuters, “India has shown utter disregard and disrespect for women… rape, marital rapes, sexual assault and harassment, female infanticide has gone unabated.”
Since the high-profile 2012 gang-rape and murder of a female student on a bus in New Delhi, India has been internationally condemned for its treatment of women.
As the epidemic of rape is on an upward trajectory in India, outrage has been directed towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for failing to protect women.
One of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals is a global development aiming to eliminate all forms of violence against women by 2030.
“But despite this pledge, it is estimated that one in three women globally experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime,” the Reuters Foundation said.
In a country like India, governed by a strong patriarchal and hierarchal sense of identity, women are the unfortunate result of a very imbalanced sex ratio.
Contributing to the already-skewed gender ration is the practice of sex-selection abortions—where a child of unwanted gender is illegally aborted—a practice that also increases instances of violence against women.
At the start of the year, eight men, including a retired government official, four policemen and a juvenile were arrested in connection for the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl, whose battered body was dumped in a forest in Kathua, India.
The rape of minors is a rising and disturbing reality in India.
Between 2012 and 2016, reports of child rape more than doubled, revealing more than 40 per cent of the country’s female victims of violence were children.
India has been forced to seriously reconsider its rape and sexual violence laws, introducing tough new penalties and even the death penalty for rapists of young children.
However, the findings show these steps simply are not enough.
Thousands of rape cases go unreported in India due to the immense stigma, shame, and drawn-out and expensive court proceedings surrounding rape and sexual assault.
This year a 16-year-old girl was burnt alive after her parents complained to village elders she had been abducted and raped.
The issue of women’s safety and rape in India is gnawing at its country’s conscience.
While India remains a popular destination for travel and cultural experience, the danger women are placed in on a daily basis shows no serious signs of abating.