A survey by Thomson Reuters Foundation of 550 experts on women’s issues have has ranked India as the most dangerous country in the world to be a woman because of the high risk of sexual violence and slave labor. Human trafficking for domestic work, forced labor, forced marriage and sexual slavery are among some of the other reasons.
India was also the most dangerous country in the world for cultural traditions that impact women, citing acid attacks, female genital mutilation, child marriage and physical abuse.
Nine of the 10 countries on the list were from Asia, the Middle East or Africa. At number 10 was the United States, the only Western country to be included. The presence of United States in the list has been attributed to the #MeToo movement which has brought to light the problems even female celebrities face at the hands of male colleagues.
Other countries that ranked among the top 10 were Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen. Pakistan has often found itself in the spotlight for the wrong reasons when it comes to treatment of women. Last year World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2017 ranked Pakistan on 143rd place. Since the first global gender gap index in 2006, majority of countries have managed to reduce their gender gaps. On the other hand, there are a few countries that have either made no progress, or are even falling behind their previous rankings. In Pakistan the situation hasn’t changed much with women still sidelined from mainstream economic activities in much of the country. The dominant patriarchal ideology, harmful social norms and stereotypes have more or less sidelined women despite the country’s constitution granting them equal rights.
Issues as common as harassment faced by women are still very much a taboo topic in Pakistan; however social media has given women a voice, and social networking websites are now helping women highlight the problems they face. Recently female students of a college in Islamabad accused a teacher of harassing over 80 female students. The issue was raised on social networking websites and gained enough traction that electronic and print media followed suit. Just like neighboring India, Pakistan needs to do a lot more to ensure that women feel safe. As the country’s founder Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah said, ‘No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you,’ we need to ensure that women can participate side by side with men in every field and for that we need to guarantee them an environment where they feel safe. Feeling safe shouldn’t be a privilege but a basic right that state much ensure.