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The Most Dangerous Country in the World for Women is India

Women are not safe at work, in public, and at home

Mark Twain once said, “India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.” It’s ironic how fondly he is referring to India as a female persona, yet today India is known for being the most dangerous county in the world for women – according to a recent Thomson Reuters Foundation survey. Government data shows that there are four cases of rape reported every hour in India. This fact leads me to the quote by Melanne Verveer, “No country can get ahead when it leaves half of its people behind.

Although India has the world’s largest functioning democracy, gender equality is far worse there, than it is in countries where we would expect it to be atrocious, like Afghanistan where we see women facing insurgent violence, widespread physical and sexual abuse by state forces and honor killings. You would think that Afghanistan is the least favorable place for a woman to live. It is worse in India. Indian women are far more likely to be:

  • enslaved as sex workers
  • forced into debt bondage
  • subjected to high rates of domestic violence
  • female infanticide
  • economic discrimination

 

Violence Towards Women is Unprecedented

The inclusion of economic discrimination as a form of violence is a huge underlying reason why women are mistreated in so many ways. Although women compromise 70% of the world’s poor, it is not always thought of as an act of violence. However, many manifestations of violence against women can be traced back to poverty, such as the tradition of forced marriages by family seeking to alleviate debt, the sale of female children into sex slavery and maternal mortality rates associated with lack of access to healthcare. Women are shown utter disregard and disrespect by men and are expected to keep quiet about any mistreatment, as a code of family honor.

The dirty secret about men’s crass abuse of power through sexual violence against women has hit the global press. We have all seen the protests in India against the grotesque rapes of toddlers, the gang rape of eight-year-olds, and of young women protesting human trafficking. Rightly so, a majority of the women in India do not feel safe alone on the streets, at work, in markets, or at home, even though they have learned how to cope with existential anxiety. Women are forced to survive by not going outside after dark without permission, censor their speech, cover their bodies with layers of clothing so they don’t “provoke” the attention of men, and avoid looking eye to eye with men.

 

Who is Helping Women?

Many social enterprises like my own company, World For Good, aim to elevate human rights in India. My company primarily focuses on anti-human trafficking in the forms of sex trafficking and modern-day slavery. We partner with nonprofit centers in India that provide fair wage opportunities for women who do not have good options to support themselves and that are at risk or are survivors of poverty, trafficking and slavery. The marginalized women are taught sewing skills, given free counseling and health checks and they also get help opening a bank account. For every handmade fabric bag World For Good sells, we are able to invest over half of the profit back into the nonprofit centers to buy more inventory, which pays the maker’s wages. People all over the US buy our fabric bags because they believe in the promise of what our brand will do for the women of India and their children.

There are many other social enterprises with the same business model that are working diligently to give the impoverished community a means to support themselves, but COVID-19 has hit our makers and our companies hard. Selling products has come to a halt, which means that the nonprofit centers are barely able to support the people they are trying to help because we are no longer able to buy inventory from them. When their income goes away, their safety goes with it because the survivors could possibly be forced back into the dire situation they escaped from.

You would never guess that India was one of the richest countries until the time of British rule in the early 17th Century. Women’s rights have been disintegrating ever since. Until the heads of state in India understand that no democracy is a democracy when half of the population lives in fear, they have no way of building back into a strong, sustainable and resilient country.


Jennifer Moreau Chick
Jennifer Moreau Chick

As the Founder and CEO of World For Good, Jennifer Moreau-Chick helps readers learn about how to elevate social and environmental sustainability in the business community so companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors. She has been featured in Conscious Company Magazine as a leader in social impact, in Conscious Magazine and has worked as a Marketing Director for 3 certified B Corporations for the past four years. Visit her blog here.

 

 

 

 

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How to Protect Children From COVID-19 Predators

child in dark forest

Child predators love the stay at home order.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced almost all children to be exposed to more online communication than what they have been used to. Spending more time in the virtual world can leave children at all ages, genders and colors vulnerable to online sexual exploitation as predators take full advantage of the stay at home order. Kids are now using digital technology as, pretty much, the only way of keeping themselves connected to friends and teachers for learning, entertainment and some sort of connection. Not all kids know how to keep themselves safe online.

As a mom of two boys, I make sure that our firewall is secure and that our privacy settings are updated. But all that “protection” means nothing if the predator is invited into my son’s virtual world as a friend or a friend of a friend. And believe me, these cyber stalkers are smart. They know precisely how to gain trust and maneuver their way into your child’s life organically.

“Under the shadow of COVID-19, the lives of millions of children have temporarily shrunk to just their homes and their screens” said Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The lack of face-to-face contact with friends may lead to heightened risk-taking, such as sending sexualized images and also there is a greater risk of cyberbullying.

Parents may think there is no harm in their children partaking in direct messaging or group chats, but stalkers are using this, and other digital opportunities to build on our children’s trust and to exploit their vulnerabilities. Once the child trusts this person, they will unknowingly share personal information such as if they are sad or if they have any pictures to share. The trafficker will slowly build a profile of vulnerabilities and a plan to exploit.

The trafficker is only interested in making money. He may plan to “take” their prey after the pandemic lifts and the kids swarm to the malls or parks. Or he may coerce your lonely daughter to send him videos that he can sell online. Most kids won’t know that they are being groomed for human trafficking.

Photo by Oleg Magni on Unsplash

 

Human trafficking is a growing problem worldwide

  • 2nd most common criminal activity behind the illegal drug trade
  • 40 million + victims of human trafficking worldwide
  • 3 million victims right here in the US
  • 300,000 US children are at risk for child trafficking before COVID-19
  • 5 billion children and young people affected by school closures worldwide that are all online for most of the day because of COVID-19

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

 

What can be done to keep kids safe?

  1. Talk to your kids about the possible personas of predators

They will seem overly friendly, and in some cases, the predators may even be people that the child knows.

  1. Predators are not just on social media, but also in the gaming world.

Games like Fortnite are great for playing with friends because there is a chat and voice function, but these same functions will be used by predators to gain your child’s trust.

  1. Use digital devices in a common area.

Check-in on your kids sporadically to monitor who is talking to them.

  1. Get to know the list of apps that predators have the most success at.

Knowledge is power. This app list changes frequently, so check it many times and compare the list to your child’s phone or ipad apps.

This pandemic is extremely hard on your kids. They have been thrown into a brand-new routine that is foreign to them – which drives them to actively looking for someone familiar to talk to each day. With increased internet usage comes an increased risk of encountering sexual predators online. The most important thing for parents to do is to have open and honest conversations with their family about risks, how to minimize exposure and how to handle dangerous situations. The hard part for parents will be to find the right blend of your child’s need to for connection and your child’s need for safety.

 


As the Founder and CEO of World For Good, Jennifer Moreau-Chick helps readers learn about how to elevate social and environmental sustainability in the business community so companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors. She has been featured in Conscious Company Magazine as a leader in social impact and has worked as a Marketing Director for 3 certified B Corporations for the past four years. Visit her blog here.