The United States is the only western country to be included on a list of the most dangerous countries in the world for women.
In a new survey of 550 experts on women’s issues, India was named the most dangerous country for women due to the high risk of sexual violence, human trafficking, slave labour, genital mutilation and child marriages.
The annual report commissioned by Thomson Reuters Foundation, examined all 193 members of the United Nations on the several topic including healthcare, economic resources and discrimination, cultural, tribal or religious customs and practices and sexual and non-sexual violence. The respondents to the survey included relief workers, healthcare staff, policy-makers, non-government organization workers and academics.
Since 2016, the number of reported rapes of minor girls in India has increased by 82 per cent. In 95 per cent of these crimes, the rapist was either a family member, friend or neighbour. Although legislation was passed in 2012 to increase the penalty for those convicted of rape, only 1 in 4 cases end with a conviction.
Although disturbing, these statistics are reflective of a pandemic of violence against women and girls.
According to the United Nations Women’s Organization, 200 million women and girls worldwide have been the victims of genital mutilation, 750 million were forced into marriages before their 18th birthday, and 1 in 10 girls around the world have experienced sexual violence before reaching adulthood.
Other countries on the list include Afghanistan, which ranked the highest in terms of discrimination against women, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen and Nigeria.
The United States ranked 10th on the list of the most dangerous places in the world for women, largely due to the headline-making #MeToo campaign. The survey reports that the U.S tied Syria as the third most dangerous country in the world for women in terms of sexual violence and access to justice in rape cases, and ranked sixth for non-sexual violence.
While some news outlets state that the U.S makes a “surprise” appearance on the list, the statistics of violence against women speak for themselves.
It is reported that 1 in 3 women in the United States have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives, including rape and attempted rape, stalking and sexual assault, with a majority of victims between the ages of 12 and 34 years old.
In her book, Men Explain Things to Me, author Rebecca Solnit refers to violence against women as ‘the longest war’ ever waged, and one that causes a rape to be reported in the United States every 6.2 minutes.
There has been a long and arduous battle for the crimes against women to be acknowledged and persecuted – even in a country where women have condsiderably more rights and access to economic, educational and healthcare resources than others.
“We have an abundance of rape and violence against women in this country and on this Earth, though it’s never treated as a civil rights or human rights issue, or a crisis or even a pattern,” Solnit writes. “Violence doesn’t have a race, a class, a religion or a nationality, but it does have a gender.”
The reformation and dismantling of political and legal systems that protect the rights of the perpetrators of these crimes not just in the United States, but in Canada, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Nigeria, can seem overwhelming.
However, this change begins first and foremost with a recognition from leaders that we have been living in a world that has waged a global war against women.
To change, there needs to be a commitment from citizens, regardless of gender or nationality to elect officials who will support gender equality, facilitate change, and will convict perpetrators of the crimes that billions of women have suffered at the hands of men.