Special Report

Most Dangerous Countries for Women

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10. United States
> Est. trafficking victims: 1.3 per 1,000 residents
> Female life expectancy: 81.2 years
> Women in legislature: 20.0%
> Population: 325.7 million

The United States is the lone Western nation to make the Thomson Reuters Foundation ranking. The United States is ranked 10th because of its third place rank in sexual violence — which includes rape, sexual harassment, and coercion into sex — and sixth place rank in non-sexual violence, such as domestic physical and mental abuse.

According to Thomson Reuters, the survey was taken after the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment exploded last October. Following the allegations that Hollywood movie titan Harvey Weinstein was sexually harassing women for decades, hundreds of women went public with accounts of powerful men of abusing their positions of power in media, politics, and entertainment.

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9. Nigeria
> Est. trafficking victims: 7.7 per 1,000 residents
> Female life expectancy: 54.2 years
> Women in legislature: 5.8%
> Population: 190.9 million

In Nigeria, extreme poverty, corruption, and violent conflict create one of the most hazardous environments for women in the world. Women in Nigeria are routinely subject to attacks from extremist groups such as Boko Haram, and they are more likely to be victims of human trafficking than in nearly any other country. According to the UN, 40% of street children are victims of trafficking.

In addition to the dangers of physical violence, there are certain cultural practices in Nigeria that pose a threat to women’s health. According to the Population Reference Bureau, 27% of women in Nigeria undergo female genital mutilation. The Thomson Reuters report on the most dangerous countries for women ranks Nigeria as the sixth worst country for cultural traditions harmful to women, the 10th worst for sexual violence, and the fourth worst for human trafficking.

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8. Yemen
> Est. trafficking victims: 3.1 per 1,000 residents
> Female life expectancy: 66.4 years
> Women in legislature: 0.5%
> Population: 28.3 million

Yemen has been torn apart by a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the last three years, a war that has killed 10,000 people and displaced 3 million others. The unstable situation has made the nation on the Arabian peninsula dangerous — for women in particular.

Yemen ranks fourth in non-sexual violence such as mental and physical domestic abuse, fourth for access to health care, and fifth in discrimination of women. Women also can be subjected to acid attacks, child marriage, and genital mutilation. Yemen ranks 168th on the United Nations Development Program Gender Inequality Index.

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7. Democratic Republic of the Congo
> Est. trafficking victims: 13.7 per 1,000 residents
> Female life expectancy: 61.1 years
> Women in legislature: 8.2%
> Population: 81.3 million

Civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has led to widespread instability and suffering throughout the country and has left women with few civil protections. Armed groups on both sides of the conflict regularly loot and attack communities, and rape and kidnap women with impunity. According to the World Bank, 36.8% of adult women in the country are regularly subject to physical and sexual violence, the most of any country other than Afghanistan.

In addition to the dangers caused by the ongoing conflict, certain cultural practices in DR Congo pose a threat to women’s health. According to the World Health Organization, about 5% of women in the country undergo female genital mutilation. The Thomson Reuters report on the most dangerous countries for women ranks DR Congo as the second worst country for sexual violence.

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6. Pakistan
> Est. trafficking victims: 16.8 per 1,000 residents
> Female life expectancy: 67.5 years
> Women in legislature: 20.3%
> Population: 197.0 million

Pakistan improved from the previous Thomson Reuters report seven years ago, when it was ranked third most dangerous for women. Pakistan ranks fourth in the categories of discrimination and culture and religion, fifth in non-sexual violence, and seventh in sexual violence. According to data from the World Bank, one in three Pakistani women are physically abused by their husbands, and women are victims of honor killings at the hands of family members.

Violence against women in Pakistan was brought into sharp focus with the publication of the book “I Am Malala,” the story of Malala Yousafzai, the young woman who was shot by the Taliban because she was advocating for education for Pakistani women. Yousafzai received the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.

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