The Ministry of Women and Child Development on Wednesday rejected the findings of a survey that said India is the world’s most dangerous country for women.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation, after a survey of 548 experts on women’s issues, ranked India as the world’s most dangerous country for women, followed by Afghanistan and Syria, due to the high risk of sexual violence. The respondents were asked to name five of the 193 United Nations member states they thought were most dangerous for women. The survey ranked the countries on six key areas – healthcare, discrimination, cultural traditions, sexual violence, non-sexual violence and human trafficking.

According to News18, Union Minister of Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi wrote to Thomson Reuters demanding to know why the ministry was not consulted for the report. She also asked details of the methodology used to arrive at the numbers.

The ministry said Thomson Reuters Foundation used a flawed methodology and that the ranking is based on an pinion poll rather than reports or data. It said the use of an opinion poll to label India as the most dangerous country for women is an “effort to malign the nation and draw attention away from real improvements seen in recent years”.

“The poll has been conducted with 548 respondents, which have been defined by Reuters as ‘experts focused on women’s issues’,” the ministry said in a statement. “ However, information on their designation, credentials, country of expertise or qualifications is not available, thus reliability is an issue. The methodology given by the organisation also includes ‘policymakers’ as one of the respondents. However, no information or opinion has been sought from this ministry regarding the poll.”

The ministry added that the questions asked in the poll cannot be applied to all countries. It said India is far ahead of many countries in most of the six key areas that were posed in the poll questions. “Therefore, the ranking of India is a surprise and clearly inaccurate,” it said.

Citing National Crime Records Bureau data, the ministry said 38,947 cases of rape have been registered in 2016, 36,735 cases in 2014, and 34,651 cases were reported in 2015. The increase in reporting cases is a result of an environment favourable for women to access police authorities, the ministry said.

“Further, the rate of rape in India stands at 0.03 per 1,000 population whereas US has reported a much higher figure of 1.2 rapes per 1,000 population,” the statement read.

In the detailed statement, the ministry, among other things, cited official surveys that show reduction in maternal mortality ratio, drop in number of child marriages over the years, enrolment of girls in primary and secondary levels of education. It also said that the state governments have tried to increase the representation of women in the police force to make the force women-friendly. The government has set up institutional support mechanisms to provide legal aid, counselling, medical aid, temporary shelter, and police assistance to women in need.

“Facts clearly show that the opinion of India as the most dangerous country for women is not a reflection of reality,” it said.