15 June 2012
A survey of some of the world's richest countries suggests that India ranks the worst for women, coming even lower than Saudi Arabia. The poll, by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, looked at a range of factors, from women's education and health care to job opportunities and violence against women.
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The survey assesses nineteen of the world's developed and emerging countries - including Mexico, Indonesia and Brazil. India's neighbours, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, were not included.
India scored poorly largely because of such practices as under-age marriage, dowry-abuse, domestic violence and female foeticide. The country's Domestic Violence Act, passed seven years ago, was described as progressive. But gender violence, fuelled by social prejudice against girls does persist, especially in low income families.
Some people may be surprised that India ranks lower than Saudi Arabia where women are not allowed to drive and have not yet had the chance to exercise the right to vote. In India, the status of women is closely linked to wealth and class. There are plenty of well-educated, professional women who enjoy personal freedoms and a Western lifestyle. India first had a female prime minister in the nineteen sixties and currently has its first female President. But their experience stands in marked contrast to the lives of rural women in the least developed states.
Canada was described as the best country for women, followed by Germany and then the United Kingdom. The United States ranked sixth.
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- female foeticide
aborting a female foetus after its sex has been determined
gradually improving or developing
continue to happen
- to exercise
connected/ related to
- personal freedoms
civil liberties or the right to make their own choices
- marked contrast
a noticeable difference