Guess what? Kerala, Bihar and Chhattisgarh are the states with the highest percentage of women legislators with criminal records while Assam, Jharkhand and Rajasthan are some of the cleanest, says a study.
On the whole, about 13 percent of women legislators in states and 14 percent of women MPs in the 14th Lok Sabha had criminal records, says the study by PRS Legislative Research based on affidavits filed by candidates with the Election Commission up to 2007.
The study by the independent research initiative suggests that women leaders don't lag behind when it comes to having criminal records or amassing wealth.
A total of 51 women are in the 545-member Lok Sabha while 280 are women among 4,120 legislators across all state assemblies.
The survey shows that 83 percent women legislators have criminal records in Kerala, while the figure is 25 percent for Bihar and Chhattisgarh.
The other states that have women MLAs with criminal records are Madhya Pradesh (22 percent), Karnataka (20 percent), Tamil Nadu (19 percent), Haryana and Orissa (18 percent), Maharashtra and Punjab (17 percent), Uttar Pradesh (13 percent), Andhra Pradesh (eight percent) and West Bengal (six percent).
However, in 11 states, women legislators do not have any kind of criminal record. The states are Assam, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand.
The survey names seven women MPs with criminal charges, and topping the list is Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati who has in the past been booked for cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy. She is no longer an MP as she is now Uttar Pradesh chief minister.
There are two from Kerala -- the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) P. Satheedevi and C.S. Sujatha -- booked for unlawful assembly and rioting. Also in the list of women MPs "with criminal charges" based on affidavits filed in 2004 is Suryakanta Patil from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), accused of misusing a charitable institution.
Two Shiv Sena MPs are there too, Narhire Kalpana Ramesh for wrongful restraint and Bhavana Pundlikrao under the Bombay Police Act.
Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury appears in the list for obstructing a public servant in discharging his duties.
Anil Bairwal, national coordinator of the Association for Democratic Reforms and National Election Watch, said he is not surprised by the findings.
"It is easy to see that such women are either the wife or a relative of an influential politician. How did they come on top in politics - by depending on men. In such a situation, it is not surprising to find them involved in corruption or criminal cases," said Bairwal, whose organisations work for improving governance and strengthening democracy.
He said a very small number of women are selected by political parties to fight in elections. "There is no democratic method involved in selecting them. If more women are selected, I am sure they will focus on issues that would make a difference," Bairwal said.
The survey also states that many women legislators are richer than their male counterparts. Over 30 percent of women MPs have assets worth more than Rs.1.5 crore. The figure is 14.3 percent for members of legislative assemblies (MLAs).
Similarly, 26 percent of women MPs have assets between Rs.50 lakh and Rs.1.5 crore while the figure is 21 percent for MLAs.
In Himachal Pradesh, most women MLAs' assets have been put at more than Rs.1.5 crore. "Three of the five women MLAs in Himachal Pradesh have household assets worth more than Rs.1.5 crore."