It has been about 5 years since the Nirbhaya incident. A young girl was brutally assaulted and raped in the national capital. The nation rose up, united in its protest, bringing to light the spate of crime against women in the country. Much has been done since then to keep our girls and women safe and yet we seem to have failed them miserably when we take a look at the statistics of crimes against women. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the country records a crime against a woman every 1.7 minutes. Every 16 minutes a rape is recorded. Let us keep in mind that in this country sexual crimes go largely unreported. Domestic violence against a woman is recorded every 4.4 minutes. It is against the backdrop of such alarming statistics that the Women and Child Development Ministry released the findings of India’s first ever Gender Vulnerability Index (GVI) report prepared by the NGO, Plan India.
The GVI State Rankings – Top States
The Gender Vulnerability Index is a composite study that takes into account a number of parameters including health, education, poverty, child marriage, protection against violence etc. It looks at the various ways in which a girl child may be vulnerable during their entire lifetime taking a “womb to tomb” approach. The western state of Goa has been ranked right at the top of the list of states going by safety of women. The state of Goa which is very popular among domestic and international tourists has scored 0.656 points in the GVI Index. It ranks high on health and education. Each year hundreds of thousands of travellers land in Goa to enjoy the sandy beaches laid back resorts, and vibrant music culture. Many women travel solo to Goa and this comes as glad tidings to the state’s tourism industry. The country as a whole holds an average score of 0.5314. The index ranks the states between 0 and 1 with the highest ranks going to states closest to 1.
The verdant green state of Kerala to the south west of India ranked next to Goa in the GVI Index. Kerala managed to score 0.634 on the GVI. This hardly comes as a surprise since this is the first state to have achieved 100 percent literacy and has a tradition of matriarchy in some sections of society. Kerala has achieved exceptional success in the health sector, says the report by Plan India.
Other states that feature among the top 5 states in the GVI are Mizoram, Sikkim, and Manipur. While much remains to be done to improve the infrastructure of these northeastern states, it looks like the rest of the country can learn precious lessons in women’s safety from them.
Most Unsafe States
The state that was ranked at the very bottom of the GVI is Bihar with a score of 0.410. The index report says that the girls and women of the state are particularly vulnerable and also more likely to lose out on education and health. The report reveals that about 39 percent of the girls from the state of Bihar are married before they reach the legal marriageable age. Over 12 percent of the girls surveyed are underage mothers as well.
UP ranked slightly ahead of Bihar with a score of 0.434 and next came the national capital Delhi with a score of 0.436. The low rank of the national capital is a matter of concern. The report says, “education in Delhi is the poorest among the 30 states”. Delhi also fared very low on the basis of the protection it provides its female residents. Among the 30 ranked (29 states & Delhi) Delhi came last in terms of women’s education and was ranked 28 by protection. Here too some 13 percent girls marry before attaining the legal age and some 26.8 percent women are victims of spousal violence.
The GVI highlighted a number of issues that must be addressed by the states. States such as Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh have very high rates of spousal violence. These are also the states in which crimes against women are very high.
The ‘Plan for Every Child’ is a campaign by Plan India that aims at understanding the various challenges and problems faced by girls and women in the country. The NGO plans to assist the central government in formulating policies and even legislation that will make India a safer, better place for women.