Justice JS Verma’s report on reforms needed to curb crimes against women is punctuated 115 times by suggestions that gender equality in education could serve as a powerful antidote to anti-women mindsets.
However, India’s limited definition of gender parity in education means that states which rate highest on indices of gender equality in education also report the highest rate of crimes against women, government data reveals.
Tripura scored 0.96 on a scale of 1 in the country’s gender parity index in primary education in 2011, while Kerala, Assam and Andhra Pradesh all scored even better – 0.98 – in the survey conducted annually by the National University for Educational Planning and Administration.
“Discrimination between the sexes in the allocation of scarce resources in various fields such as nutrition, medical care and education is directly related to the greater desirability of the son and the transferability of the daughter,” the Verma report argues.
However, unlike countries such as Finland – recognised worldwide for its gender sensitive schooling – India measures gender parity in education only in terms of enrolment in schools. So, states that are among the highest scorers on gender parity in education also bear the embarrassment of reporting crimes against women most frequently, according to latest data provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
Tripura and Assam lead this pack, with 37 cases for every 1,000 women, but Kerala (34) and Andhra Pradesh (33) have crime rates against women that are almost as high. Uttar Pradesh (11) and Bihar (10) – routinely pilloried as states with poor women empowerment records – have a far lower rate of such crimes.