Special Report

Countries Where Women Do Not Feel Safe

5. Italy
> Pct. women who feel less safe than men: -28% (tied for 4th)
> Pct. women who feel safe at night: 40%
> Pct. men who feel safe at night: 68%

When it comes to gender equality, Italy’s performance is exceptionally poor. Just 56% of women are fully employed versus 69% of Italian men, a 13% gap in employment that is among the largest in the world. Italy also had a mediocre performance on the 2011 World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, receiving a composite score of 0.6796, in the bottom half of the 135 countries surveyed. The composite measures the levels of women’s economic participation, educational attainment, health and political involvement. The World Economic Forum’s accompanying profile of Italy noted poor rates of labor force participation and little wage equality for similar work performed. When it comes to safety, gender inequality in the country persists as just 40% of Italian women feel safe compared to 68% of men.

4. Cyprus
> Pct. women who feel less safe than men: -28% (tied for 4th)
> Pct. women who feel safe at night: 57%
> Pct. men who feel safe at night: 85%

Women’s economic participation is somewhat advanced in Cyprus, as 74% of women are employed at full capacity versus 78% of men. However, the unemployment rate for male Cypriots was half that of women at just 3% versus 6% in 2011. In many other areas the status of women in the country also remains extremely unequal. Political participation for women is limited: just 10.7% of Cyprus’s parliament is made up of women, while just 9% of ministerial positions are held by women. The unequal treatment of women extends to many facets of women’s lives in Cyprus, adversely affecting women’s safety. According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, Cyprus is a “destination country” for sex traffickers.

3. Malta
> Pct. women who feel less safe than men: -34% (tied for 2nd)
> Pct. women who feel safe at night: 48%
> Pct. men who feel safe at night: 82%

In a 2010 report, the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women criticized Malta for its approach to women’s rights and safety. The report expressed concern that domestic violence was an ongoing problem in the country and that Maltese sociocultural attitudes continued to condone domestic violence. However, some progress has been made when in July 2011 Malta’s parliament legalized divorce. The inability to divorce has been cited by CEDAW as resulting in “de facto discrimination against women.”

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2. Algeria
> Pct. women who feel less safe than men:-34% (tied for 2nd)
> Pct. women who feel safe at night: 32%
> Pct. men who feel safe at night: 66%

Less than a third of women in the North African nation of Algeria feel safe going out at night, the fifth-worst rate in the world. While the proportion of men working full-time compared to women working full-time is nearly identical, the nation fails several other gender equality tests. Just 8% of those in parliament are women. The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index rates the country as having the 11th-worst score for equal opportunities among 114 nations. According to the UN, reported rapes per capita are relatively low, but this may be a reporting issue. Amnesty International explains that the rights of women in the country are marginalized. There are continued issues of violence against women, and women’s rights are “subordinated to those of men in matters related to marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance.”

1. New Zealand
> Pct. women who feel less safe than men:-35%
> Pct. women who feel safe at night: 50%
> Pct. men who feel safe at night: 85%

In most measures of gender equality, other than perceptions of safety, New Zealand actually performs well. The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index gives New Zealand the fourth-best score of all nations surveyed. Regarding employment prospects, the proportion of men working full-time is only slightly higher than women’s at 66% for men versus 64% for women. On the issue of political participation, 32.2% of parliament is composed by women. However, such data seemingly ignores the detrimental impact of violent crime in women’s lives in New Zealand. At a rate of 30.58 reported incidents for 100,000 people in 2009, the country has the seventh-highest frequency of rapes out of 94 countries surveyed. Gallup also cites a 2011 United Nations report that labels New Zealand as one of the worst countries when it comes to incidents of domestic violence among a surveyed group of highly developed nations.

–Michael B. Sauter and Alexander E. M. Hess