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India has been found to be the most dangerous country for women in the world according to a survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The largest democracy and the second most populous country in the world fared worse than war-torn Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia on the risks faced by women.
Top 10 most dangerous countries for women:
5. Saudi Arabia
7. Democratic Republic of Congo
10. United States
The survey featured 548 ‘experts on women issues’, including journalists, social workers, development professionals, policymakers and academics who answered a number of questions.
India scored the lowest possible score in questions on acid attacks, child marriage, forced marriage, female infanticide due to cultural and religious practices; rape and subsequent denial of justice and human trafficking including forced marriages, domestic servitude.
The poll was a repeat of a survey conducted in 2011, which found India to be at number four after Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan.
Monique Villa, the head of the Thomson Reuters Foundation said out of the 548 experts who responded to the survey, 41 were based in India.
She said the result is not surprising.
"The fact that it's on top of the list is not that surprising because if you think that India is the country where there is massive infanticide of girls and the gap between men and women in India is 37 million. It's a lot against women before you are born you can be killed,” Ms Villa told NDTV.
India’s main opposition party, Congress has been quick to criticise Prime Minister Narendra Modi citing the findings of the poll.
However, opinion is divided with many calling into question the methodology used to conduct the survey.
India's National Commission for Women - the peak government body for women's issues - debunked the survey, saying the sample size of 548 experts is not representative of a country of 1.3 billion people.
Its acting Chairperson, Rekha Sharma, was quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying that women are very aware in India of the issues.
“There is no way that we could be ranked number 1 in such a survey. The countries that have been ranked after India have women who are not even allowed to speak in public.”
The United States ranked 10th overall but ranked joint-third with Syria over the question of where women most risked sexual violence, harassment and coercion into sex, and sixth on the issue of non-sexual violence such as domestic and mental abuse.
The issue of women safety and rape in India made headlines across the world after a medical student was gang-raped and brutally mutilated on a bus in India’s national capital New Delhi in December 2012.
Government statistics showed that reported cases of crime against women rose by 83 per cent between 2007 and 2016 - with four cases of rape reported every hour.
India has promoted rape and sexual violence laws and introduced tougher penalties, including the death penalty for rapists of young children, after the 2012 incident.
However, incidents of sexual violence against women have continued to make headlines in the country.