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.
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.
The facts: Women in Afghanistan have a one in 11 chance of dying in childbirth. Some 87 pct of women are illiterate. Then, 70-80 pct of girls and women face forced marriages.
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.
Facts: 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. And 57 pct of pregnant women are anaemic.
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.
Facts: 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.
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.
Facts: 100 million people, mostly women and girls, are involved in trafficking in one way or another, according to former Indian Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta. Up to 50 million girls are “missing” over the past century due to female infanticide and foeticide. About 44.5 pct of girls are married before the age of 18.
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.
Facts: 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 (http://www.trust.org/alertnet), U.N. agencies, IRIN News, American Journal of Public Health, World Bank, Gender Index, Human Rights Watch, International Centre for Research on Women.