London, Jul 10: Any issue of women's safety is "unfortunate" and joint efforts are needed to address this "social problem", Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said.
Prasad also strongly refuted a recent survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation that has ranked India as the world's most dangerous country for women, followed by war-torn Afghanistan and Syria, due to the high risk of sexual violence. Addressing an Indian Professionals Forum (IPF) summit at Asia House in London yesterday, the Minister of Law, Justice and Information Technology pointed out that the report had spoken to just 200-300 women in India out of a population of an estimated 1.3 billion.
"Let us not single out any country. Any problem of women's safety is unfortunate. It is a social problem...we have to work together to address these issues," he said. "We have taken steps and in the case of rape, we changed the law to bring in capital punishment [in cases involving minors]," he added.
He also pointed to a report on women's safety and security by the European Commission, which he said did not present a "very good picture" about Europe. "The counter-view would be that today the defence minister of India is a woman, the foreign minister is a woman, the Speaker of our Parliament is a woman," he said.
The minister, who is on an official visit to the UK, was addressing the IPF on 'India: A Land of Digital Opportunities' and called on British companies to take advantage of an open foreign direct investment (FDI) regime in the IT sector to tap into one of the world's "biggest markets". "India’s digital economy is poised for great growth. It is a land of digital opportunities and we are working towards making digital empowerment a mass movement," he said.
"The UK-India relationship is politics neutral. It is very robust and stable, with a new ecosystem laid by the last visit of Prime Minister Modi to the UK with the UK-India Tech Alliance," the minister added. Prasad is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with the law and justice and IT ministers in the UK, during which he said the "larger narrative of freedom of movement" of Indian professionals and students would be among a wide range of issues to be discussed.