Afghanistan, Congo, Pakistan, India & Somalia global leaders in violence against women Print E-mail


 15 June 2011












 
 15 June 2011

FACTSHEET: The world's most dangerous countries for women

Source: alertnet

A woman displaced by war prays during a Sunday service in an outdoor church at the Don Bosco center in Goma in eastern Congo in this November 23, 2008 (file photo. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly/Files)

LONDON (TrustLaw) - Afghanistan, Congo and Pakistan are the world's most dangerous countries for women due to a barrage of threats ranging from violence and rape to dismal healthcare and "honour killngs", a Thomson Reuters Foundation expert poll showed on Wednesday.

India and Somalia ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in the global perceptions survey by TrustLaw, the Foundation's legal news service.

TrustLaw asked 213 gender experts from five continents to rank countries by overall perceptions of danger as well as by six risks: health threats, sexual violence, non-sexual violence, cultural or religious factors, lack of access to resources and trafficking.

Following are key facts on each of the five countries, ranked in order of danger.

1. AFGHANISTAN
Beleaguered by insurgency, corruption and dire poverty, Afghanistan ranked as most dangerous to women overall and came out worst in three of the poll's key risk categories: health, non-sexual violence and economic discrimination.

* Women in Afghanistan have a one in 11 chance of dying in childbirth.

* Some 87 pct of women are illiterate.

* 70-80 pct of girls and women face forced marriages.

2. CONGO

Still reeling from a 1998-2003 war and accompanying humanitarian disaster that killed 5.4 million, Democratic Republic of Congo ranked second due mainly to staggering levels of sexual violence.

* About 1,150 women are raped every day, or some 420,000 a year, according to a recent report in the American Journal of Public Health.

* The Congolese Women's Campaign Against Sexual Violence puts the number of rapes at 40 women a day.

* 57 pct of pregnant women are anaemic.

3. PAKISTAN

Those polled cited cultural, tribal and religious practices harmful to women, including acid attacks, child and forced marriage and punishment or retribution by stoning or other physical abuse.

* More than 1,000 women and girls are victims of "honour killings" every year, according to Pakistan's Human Rights Commission.

* 90 pct of women in Pakistan face domestic violence.

* Women earn 82 pct less than men.

4. INDIA

Female foeticide, child marriage and high levels of trafficking and domestic servitude make the world's largest democracy the fourth most dangerous place for women, the poll showed.

* 100 million people, mostly women and girls, are involved in trafficking in one way or another, according to former Indian Home Secretay Madhukar Gupta.

* Up to 50 million girls are "missing" over the past century due to female infanticide and foeticide.

* 44.5 pct of girls are married before the age of 18.

5. SOMALIA

One of the poorest, most violent and lawless countries, Somalia ranked fifth due to a catalogue of dangers including high maternal mortality, rape, female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage.

* 95 pct of women face FGM, mostly between the ages of 4 and 11.

* Only 9 pct of women give birth at a health facility.

* Only 7.5 pct of parliament seats are held by women.

Sources: AlertNet, U.N. agencies, IRIN News, American Journal of Public Health, World Bank, Gender Index, Human Rights Watch, International Center for Research on Women.
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London ~ Wednesday 15 June 2011, page 19

Afghanistan worst place in the world for women, but India in top five

Survey shows Congo, Pakistan and Somalia also fail females, with rape, poverty and infanticide rife

Afghan women resort to self-immolation
Domestic violence endemic in India
'No woman in Somalia happy to be a woman'
Congo, 'rape capital of the world'
A Pakistani acid attack victim fights for justice

By Owen Bowcott

A woman works at a sunflower field at Kunwarpur village, east of Allahabad, India. Her country has been ranked the fourth worst in the world for women. (Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP)

Targeted violence against female public officials, dismal healthcare and desperate poverty make Afghanistan the world's most dangerous country in which to be born a woman, according to a global survey released on Wednesday.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Pakistan, India and Somalia feature in descending order after Afghanistan in the list of the five worst states, the poll among gender experts shows.

The appearance of India, a country rapidly developing into an economic super-power, was unexpected. It is ranked as extremely hazardous because of the subcontinent's high level of female infanticide and sex trafficking.

Others were less surprised to be on the list. Informed about her country's inclusion, Somalia's women's minister, Maryan Qasim, responded: "I thought Somalia would be first on the list, not fifth."

The survey has been compiled by the Thomson Reuters Foundation to mark the launch of a website, TrustLawWoman, aimed at providing free legal advice for women's groups around the world.

High maternal mortality rates, limited access to doctors and a "near total lack of economic rights" render Afghanistan such a threat to its female inhabitants. "Continuing conflict, Nato airstrikes and cultural practices combine to make Afghanistan a very dangerous place for women," said Antonella Notari, head of Women Change Makers, a group that supports women social entrepreneurs around the world.

"Women who do attempt to speak out or take on public roles that challenge ingrained gender stereotypes of what is acceptable for women to do or not, such as working as policewomen or news broadcasters, are often intimidated or killed."

The "staggering levels of sexual violence" in the lawless east of the DRC account for its second place in the list. One recent US study claimed that more than 400,000 women are raped there each year. The UN has called Congo the rape capital of the world.

"Rights activists say militia groups and soldiers target all ages, including girls as young as three and elderly women," the survey reports, "They are gang raped, raped with bayonets and some have guns shot into their vaginas."

Pakistan is ranked third on the basis of cultural, tribal and religious practices harmful to women. "These include acid attacks, child and forced marriage and punishment or retribution by stoning or other physical abuse," the poll finds.

Divya Bajpai, reproductive health adviser at the International HIV/Aids Alliance, added: "Pakistan has some of the highest rates of dowry murder, so-called honour killings and early marriage." According to Pakistan's human rights commission, as many as 1,000 women and girls die in honour killings annually.

India is the fourth most dangerous country. "India's central bureau of investigation estimated that in 2009 about 90% of trafficking took place within the country and that there were some 3 million prostitutes, of which about 40% were children," the survey found.

Forced marriage and forced labour trafficking add to the dangers for women. "Up to 50 million girls are thought to be 'missing' over the past century due to female infanticide and foeticide,", the UN population fund says, because parents prefer to have young boys rather than girls.

Somalia, a state in political disintegration, suffers high levels of maternal mortality, rape, female genital mutilation and limited access to education and healthcare.

Qasim added: "The most dangerous thing a woman in Somalia can do is to become pregnant. When a woman becomes pregnant her life is 50-50 because there is no antenatal care at all. There are no hospitals, no healthcare, no nothing.

"Add to that the rape cases that happen on a daily basis, and female genital mutilation being done to every single girl in Somalia. Add to that famine and drought. Add to that the fighting [which means] you can die any minute, any day."

Monique Villa, the chief executive of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, said: "Hidden dangers – like a lack of education or terrible access to healthcare – are as deadly, if not more so, than physical dangers like rape and murder which usually grab the headlines.

"In Afghanistan, for instance, women have a one in 11 chance of dying in childbirth. In the top five countries, basic human rights are systematically denied to women.

"Empowering women tackles the very roots of poverty. In the developing world when a woman works, her children are better fed and better educated because they spend their money for their family."

The survey was based on responses from more than 200 aid professionals, academics, health workers, policymakers, journalists and development specialists chosen for their expertise in gender issues.

Each country was also ranked in terms of six risk factors including: health, discrimination and lack of access to resources, cultural and religious practices, sexual violence, human trafficking and conflict-related violence.

In terms of individual risk categories, Afghanistan was deemed to be the most dangerous for health, economic/discrimination and non-sexual violence; the Congo is most plagued by rape and sexual violence; and India has most problems with trafficking.

"You have to look at all the dangers to women, all the risks women and girls face," said Elisabeth Roesch, who works on gender-based violence for the International Rescue Committee in Washington.

"If a woman can't access healthcare because her healthcare isn't prioritised, that can be a very dangerous situation as well."

The TrustLaw website has been in existence for some time, linking up local NGOs and social entrepreneurs with established law firms who are prepared to offer legal advice on a pro-bono basis. The groups are vetted by Transparency International.

More than 450 law firms are already involved including some from China. Among those that have recently benefited have been the charity Riders for Health, which delivers medicine to remote villages, and reviewed its contracts in Nigeria.

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 Dublin ~ Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Afghanistan 'worst place' for women

An Afghan woman clad in burqa begs with her children near a newly constructed building in Kabul. (Mohammad Ismail/Reuters)

Violence, dismal healthcare and brutal poverty make Afghanistan the world's most dangerous country for women, with Congo a close second due to horrific levels of rape, a Thomson Reuters Foundation expert poll said today.

Pakistan, India and Somalia ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the global survey of perceptions of threats ranging from domestic abuse and economic discrimination to female foeticide, genital mutilation and acid attacks.

"Ongoing conflict, Nato airstrikes and cultural practices combined make Afghanistan a very dangerous place for women," said Antonella Notari, head of Women Change Makers, a group that supports women social entrepreneurs around the world.

"In addition, women who do attempt to speak out or take on public roles that challenge ingrained gender stereotypes of what's acceptable for women to do or not, such as working as policewomen or news broadcasters, are often intimidated or killed."

The poll by TrustLaw, a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation, marked the launch of its new TrustLaw Women section, a global hub of news and information on women's legal rights.

TrustLaw asked 213 gender experts from five continents to rank countries by overall perceptions of danger as well as by six risks. The risks were health threats, sexual violence, non-sexual violence, cultural or religious factors, lack of access to resources and trafficking.

Some experts said the poll showed that subtle dangers such as discrimination that don't grab headlines are sometimes just as significant risks for women as bombs, bullets, stonings and systematic rape in conflict zones.

"I think you have to look at all the dangers to women, all the risks women and girls face," said Elisabeth Roesch, who works on gender-based violence for the International Rescue Committee in Washington.

"If a woman can't access healthcare because her healthcare isn't prioritised, that can be a very dangerous situation as well."

Afghanistan emerged as the most dangerous country for women overall and worst in three of the six risk categories: health, non-sexual violence and lack of access to economic resources.

Respondents cited sky-high maternal mortality rates, limited access to doctors and a near total lack of economic rights. Afghan women have a one in 11 chance of dying in childbirth, according to UNICEF.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), still reeling from a 1998-2003 war and accompanying humanitarian disaster that killed 5.4 million people, came second mainly due to staggering levels of sexual violence in the lawless east.

More than 400,000 women are raped in the country each year, according to a recent study by US researchers. The United Nations has called Congo the rape capital of the world.

"Statistics from DRC are very revealing on this: ongoing war, use of rape as a weapon, recruitment of females as soldiers who are also used as sex slaves," said Clementina Cantoni, a Pakistan-based aid worker with ECHO, the European Commission's humanitarian aid department.

"The fact that the government is corrupt and that female rights are very low on the agenda means that there is little or no recourse to justice." Rights activists say militia groups and soldiers target all ages, including girls as young as three and elderly women. They are gang-raped, raped with bayonets and have guns shot into their vaginas.

Pakistan ranked third largely on the basis of cultural, tribal and religious practices harmful to women. These include acid attacks, child and forced marriage and punishment or retribution by stoning or other physical abuse.

"Pakistan has some of the highest rates of dowry murder, so-called honour killings and early marriage," said Divya Bajpai, reproductive health advisor at the International HIV/Aids Alliance.

Some 1,000 women and girls die in honour killings annually, according to Pakistan's Human Rights Commission.

India ranked fourth primarily due to female foeticide, infanticide and human trafficking.

In 2009, India's then-home secretary Madhukar Gupta estimated that 100 million people, mostly women and girls, were involved in trafficking in India that year.

"The practice is common but lucrative so it goes untouched by government and police," said Cristi Hegranes, founder of the Global Press institute, which trains women in developing countries to be journalists.

India's Central Bureau of Investigation estimated that in 2009 about 90 per cent of trafficking took place within the country and that there were some 3 million prostitutes, of which about 40 per cent were children.

In addition to sex slavery, other forms of trafficking include forced labour and forced marriage, according to a US state department report on trafficking in 2010. The report also found slow progress in criminal prosecutions of traffickers.

Up to 50 million girls are thought to be "missing" over the past century due to female infanticide and foeticide, the UN Population Fund says.

Some experts said the world's largest democracy was relatively forthcoming about describing its problems, possibly casting it in a darker light than if other countries were equally transparent about trafficking.

Somalia ranked fifth due to a catalogue of dangers including high maternal mortality, rape and female genital mutilation, along with limited access to education, healthcare and economic resources.

"I'm completely surprised because I thought Somalia would be first on the list, not fifth," Somali women's minister Maryan Qasim told TrustLaw.

"The most dangerous thing a woman in Somalia can do is to become pregnant. When a woman becomes pregnant her life is 50-50 because there is no antenatal care at all. There are no hospitals, no healthcare, no nothing.

"Add to that the rape cases that happen on a daily basis, the female genital mutilation that is being done to every single girl in Somalia. Add to that the famine and the drought. Add to that the fighting (which means) you can die any minute, any day."

Poll respondents included aid professionals, academics, health workers, policymakers, journalists and development specialists.

Reuters