Thomson Reuters Foundation is a voluntary organization that is well-known all over the world.
The results of an extensive survey conducted by their experts on the issues faced by women in different countries were released on June 26. According to the survey, India ranked first in the list of world’s most dangerous countries for women. This study was conducted with the help of 550 experts who has proved credentials in the field of gender issues. The countries that have found a place after India are those like Syria which has been destroyed by the Civil War, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen. US rank tenth in the list. The survey shows that murder, rape, insecurity of the victims, the protection provided for the culprits, domestic violence, slavery and human trafficking are the reasons for the pathetic state of women in India. The poll also highlights the official figures that there has been an 83 per cent rise in the number of cases of violence against women between 2007 and 2016. In short, the survey shows that India has turned into a global capital of violence against women.
It cannot be claimed that the Thomson Reuters Foundation poll has been unbiased and comprehensive. There will be disparities between their standards and the practices in our country. There will be problems in the report, of gauging a nation- where the majority of the population resides in rural areas with no access to technology at the grassroots level - using the yardsticks followed by western countries. At the same time, one should not lose sight of the fact that America, a western developed country, is in the list of the top ten countries dangerous for women. Nonetheless, this survey is surely a shame for a country which has been growing into an economic power. Instead of rubbishing the poll and the experts who conducted it, the matter should be approached with self-criticism.
Those who see their homeland as their mother are in power today. In the backdrop of public rage against a sensational gang rape and murder that took place in Delhi five years ago, the Narendra Modi government came to power by exploiting that fury as well. However, reports surfacing for the past several years send an exactly contradictory message. A pathetic situation arose where the father of the girl raped in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh where BJP is in power, was killed in police custody. Even BJP MLAs have been accused in the case. It was the BJP leaders themselves who led the rally organised in support of the accused in the Kathua rape and murder case that sent shock waves even across the world. All these cannot be dismissed as isolated incidents. A notion has been created that even the power centres have been shielding the culprits. Instead, the message that should have been sent out was that violence against women would be handled sternly. However, it is exactly the opposite that has been happening now. This plays a significant role in fostering a trend of seeing violence against women with triviality.
Artists are considered to be the flag-bearers of progressive ideas. A decision taken by AMMA, an association of film artists in Kerala, pains everyone. The decision to withdraw the suspension against actor Dileep who has been accused in the kidnapping and harassment of an actress, was, mildly put, deplorable. The resignation of four actresses from AMMA is a brave decision. Nobody says that actor Dileep has been found guilty. However, the circumstances that led to his suspension still do exist. That remaining so, it will not be possible to comprehend the logic behind withdrawing that decision two days ago. According to ‘Women in Cinema Collective’, it is only a reflection of the male chauvinism which rules the roost in the film industry. It is surprising how it is possible for an organization of artists by the name AMMA (mother) to adopt such a stance when a female colleague was attacked. What is more astonishing is the fact that three people's representatives, who are part of the Left front, are party to this decision. AMMA will not be able to justify rationally or legally, the move to withdraw the suspension. The organization will not be able to move ahead without facing the question as to which side they stand when it comes to the issue of violence against women.