Afghanistan Most Dangerous Country for Women, Survey Finds

A survey of more than two hundred gender experts conducted by TrustLaw, a legal news service run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, has found that Afghanistan is the most dangerous country in the world for women, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India, and Somalia.

Survey participants were asked to consider several specific risk factors, including health threats, sexual violence, non-sexual violence, cultural and religious considerations, access to resources, sex trafficking, and overall level of danger for women. Poll respondents included aid professionals, academics, health workers, policy makers, journalists, and development specialists.

According to The World's Five Most Dangerous Countries for Women (14 pages, PDF), Afghanistan was the most dangerous country for women overall as well as in terms of non-sexual violence, health, and lack of access to economic resources. The Democratic Republic of Congo, where more than 400,000 women are raped every year, ranked second, while Pakistan ranked third on the basis of cultural, tribal, and religious practices such as honor killings, forced marriage, and physical abuse. India's inclusion is primarily a result of trafficking, sex slavery, and high levels of female foeticide and infanticide. In Somalia, women must contend with a range of threats, including high maternal mortality rates, sexual violence, and limited access to education, healthcare, and economic resources.

"Ongoing conflict, NATO airstrikes, and cultural practices combined make Afghanistan a very dangerous place for women," said Antonella Notari, director of WomenChangeMakers, a global fellowship program that identifies, supports, and connects female social entrepreneurs to education, health care, and economic and political opportunities. "In addition, women who do attempt to speak out or take on public roles that challenge ingrained gender stereotypes of what's acceptable for women to do or not, such as working as policewomen or news broadcasters, are often intimidated or killed."

Lisa Anderson. "TrustLaw Poll - Afghanistan Is Most Dangerous Country for Women." TrustLaw Press Release 06/15/2011.