India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the US are among the top 10 most dangerous countries for women, according to a new poll by Thomas Reuters Foundation.
The organization surveyed nearly 550 experts focused on women’s issues, asking them to rank countries based on a number of key issues, including access to healthcare, the prevalence of sexual abuse and discrimination.
The experts ranked India as the most dangerous country for women.
“The world’s second most populous nation, with 1.3 billion people, ranked as the most dangerous on three of the topic questions – the risk of sexual violence and harassment against women, the danger women face from cultural, tribal and traditional practices, and the country where women are most in danger of human trafficking including forced labour, sex slavery and domestic servitude,” the findings said.
The report specifically pointed to the 2012 gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student.
The rape of Singh caused widespread protests and drew international attention over violence against women.
This year’s survey listed Afghanistan as the second most dangerous country for women.
The country was ranked as the most dangerous on the topics of non-sexual violence, including conflicted-related violence and domestic abuse, access to healthcare and access to economic resources.
The DRC was ranked seventh. It came in second in the 2011 poll.
On a visit to the DRC earlier this year, Norwegian Refugee Council chief Jan Egeland said that women and children were being exposed to the “worst sexual abuse ever”.
According to the United Nations, about 4.3 million people are internally displaced in the country due to violence aggravated by a political crisis sparked by President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his mandate in 2016.
The United States was listed as the 10th most dangerous country for women, ranking third on the question of sexual violence and sixth on the issue of non-sexual violence.
Thomas Reuters Foundation pointed out that the survey was conducted after the #MeToo movement went viral last year after several women accused prominent Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual abuse.
Weinstein has since pleaded not guilty to rape and criminal sex act charges.
Almost one in five women have been raped, and more than one in three experienced rape, violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the US, according to 2010 statistics by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People participate in a protest march for survivors of sexual assault and their supporters in Hollywood [File: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters]
It is worth noting that no Latin American country topped the list, despite many countries having high rates of femicide and 49 countries having no laws to protect women from domestic violence, according to UN Women.
Some including, Cindy Southworth, executive vice president at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, said that media coverage of #MeToo in the US may have attributed to this.
“People watch the US,” she told Reuters news agency. “They watch our elections. They watch our media coverage. They watch our celebrity violence against women cases.
“The perception is understandable, but not based on reality.”
Globally, it is estimated that one in three women experience physical or sexual violence during her lifetime, and nearly 750 million women and girls married before their 18th birthday.
Other countries that ranked among the top 10 were Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Yemen.
The Thomson Reuters Foundation poll was a repeat of a similar survey in 2011 that found Afghanistan, DRC, Pakistan, India, and Somalia was seen as the most dangerous countries for women.