Most DANGEROUS places for women: India ranks 4th!
A new survey has named India among the top five countries in the world that are considered as 'most dangerous places' for women.
The survey, produced by the recently launched TrustLaw website -- a product of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, has revealed that Afghanistan, Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia are the five top countries where record of women's progress in different fields is extremely poor.
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.
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, the report stated.
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Image: India ranks fourth among five top countries where record of women's progress in different fields is extremely poor
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters
Human trafficking, female foeticide greatest challenges for women in India
India was ranked fourth primarily due to female foeticide, infanticide and human trafficking, the report noted.
In 2009, former home secretary Madhukar Gupta estimated that 100 million people, mostly women and girls, were involved in trafficking in India that year, the report quoted.
"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.
The Central Bureau of Investigation estimated that in 2009 about 90 percent of trafficking took place within the country and that there were some 3 million prostitutes, of which about 40 percent 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.
Image: India was ranked fourth primarily due to female foeticide, infanticide and human trafficking, the report noted
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters
50 million girls 'missing' in India
Up to 50 million girls are thought to be 'missing' over the past century due to female infanticide and foeticide, the report quoted a United Nation Population Fund study.
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.
The report also stated that 44.5 per cent girls in India are married before the age of 18.
Image: Up to 50 million girls in India are thought to be 'missing' over the past century due to female infanticide and foeticide, the report quoted a United Nation Population Fund study.
Photographs: Mukesh Gupta/Reuters
War, poverty, disastrous health care: Enemies of Afghan women
Beleaguered by insurgency, corruption and dire poverty, Afghanistan was 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.
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, the report pointed out.
Apart from that, some 87 per cent of women in the country are illiterate, while 70-80 per cent of girls and women face forced marriages, the report also noted.
Image: Beleaguered by insurgency, corruption and dire poverty, Afghanistan was ranked as most dangerous to women
Photographs: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
More than 400,000 women raped in Congo each year
Democratic Republic of Congo, 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, the report stated.
More than 400,000 women are raped in Congo 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, the report pointed out.
Image: Rights activists say militia groups and soldiers in Congo target all ages, including girls as young as three and elderly women
Photographs: Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters
'Honour' kills 1,000 women in Pakistan each year
Pakistan was 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.
Image: Pakistan has some of the highest rates of dowry murder, so-called honour killings and early marriage
Photographs: Asim Tanveer/Reuters
95 pc women in Somalia face female genital mutilation
One of the poorest, most violent and lawless countries, Somalia was ranked fifth due to a catalogue of dangers including high maternal mortality, rape, female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage.
A dismal 95 per cent of women in Somalia face FGM, mostly between the ages of 4 and 11.
"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," she said
"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," she told TrustLaw.
In Somalia, only 9 per cent of women give birth at a health facility, and only 7.5 pct of parliament seats are held by women, the report stated.
Image: A dismal 95 per cent of women in Somalia face FGM
Photographs: Feisal Omar/Reuters