Wednesday, June 15, 2011
The world's most dangerous countries for women
India Seen as Highly Dangerous for Women
India Real Time (WSJ)
By Tripti Lahiri
India is viewed as the fourth most dangerous country in the world for women because of its poor record on human trafficking and the widespread practice of female feticide, according to a poll of 213 people who work in the field of gender rights.
India fared slightly better than its neighbor, Pakistan, which was viewed as the world’s third most dangerous nation for women, while nearby Afghanistan was voted the most dangerous. The Democratic Republic of Congo was in second place, while Somalia was fifth on the list.
The poll, which was conducted by TrustLaw Women, a women’s rights information service from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, asked people in academia, journalism, development and other fields about their perceptions.
The countries that topped the list got the highest scores based on responses to two sets of questions. They were named most often in responses to a question about which were the five most dangerous countries in the world for women—that formed a quarter of the total score. The number of times a country was named in response to specific queries about where women were most likely to die from poor healthcare, suffer sexual violence or be discriminated against due to traditional factors, among other questions, made up the rest of the score.
Although only 12% of the respondents—or about 25 people—picked India as one of the top five most dangerous countries in the world, it kept cropping up in responses to danger on specific fronts.
India was regarded by 13% as one of the most dangerous countries for women on cultural and religious grounds, while 12% picked it as the most dangerous due to human trafficking and 7% of the people polled said India was the most dangerous nation for women on health. About 8% picked India as the country where women were most likely to face nonsexual violence and 4% said it was the most dangerous nation for sexual violence.
Pakistan fared better than India on health—only 2% chose it as the most dangerous on those grounds and on trafficking. But 25% of respondents chose it as the country where women were more likely to face violence for religious, tribal or cultural reasons, more than for any other country, including Afghanistan (20%).
The most worrying factors for India were human trafficking, discrimination and cultural issues, such as the preference for a son, which has led to the use of female feticide, and early marriage. Information accompanying the poll, citing India’s former home secretary, said as many as 100 million people, mostly women and girls, could be linked in some way to trafficking in India.
Some of the data in the poll were a bit puzzling. On human trafficking, 12% selected India as the worst country, while 3% chose the Democratic Republic of Congo, another 3% Afghanistan and 1% Pakistan. The report said 82% of respondents (yes, that does total 101%) had named other countries as their top concern, but didn’t elaborate. It’s not clear whether other countries weren’t named because they each scored under 1% or for some other reason—the poll results report doesn’t say and the foundation couldn’t immediately be reached for further explanation.
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While the poll is interesting, and highlights genuine concerns, the list seems a little arbitrary. There are many countries around the world that should appear up high on a list of places where it’s difficult and dangerous to be a woman and India is certainly among them. But one does wonder why other candidates around the world with similar credentials, for lack of a better word, didn’t feature higher on the experts’ radar.
China also practices widespread sex selection and is ranked on the State Department’s Tier 2 Watch List on human trafficking, same as India, while South Africa has a reputation for a high level of sexual violence. Two years ago, Amnesty International declared maternal mortality a “human rights emergency” in Sierra Leone, but the country didn’t appear among those the experts polled were most worried about on this front. Perhaps the situation there has improved dramatically since then.
Readers what do you think of this ranking? Are there other countries you might have also expected to see in the top five most dangerous countries for women? And which countries, in your opinion, are hard places to be a woman?