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Sanjib Kr Baruah, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, June 14, 2011
Bogged down by an appaling women rights record — due to female foeticide, infanticide and human trafficking — India has been ranked the fourth most dangerous country in the world for women, a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll, declared Tuesday, has revealed. The poll ranks Afghanistan as the most dangerous country for women followed by Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India and the war-torn Somalia.

Of the top five most dangerous countries for women, three are in south Asia. This is despite the fact that the region has an impressive record of women reaching the highest political echelons.

"This survey shows that 'hidden dangers' such as lack of education or terrible access to healthcare are as deadly, if not more so, than physical dangers like rape and murder, which usually grab the headlines. In the top five countries, basic human rights are systematically denied to women," said Monique Villa, chief executive, Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The poll by TrustLaw, the Foundation's anti-corruption and women's rights news and information service, posted queries to 213 aid professionals, academics, health workers, policymakers, journalists and development specialists-all gender experts-from five continents to establish the "most dangerous countries for women". India scored the highest or the worst when it came to trafficking.

"It is true that South Asians don't, in general, value their daughters, which for instance is apparent in the dwindling gender ratio in India. Domestic violence is rampant and various forms of sexual assault often remain an untold horror that women endure," says Meenakshi Ganguly, Human Rights Watch's (HRW) South Asia director.