The United States has been designated one of the most dangerous nations in the world for women by the Reuters Foundation.
550 experts on women’s issues were asked which of the 193 UN member states they believed were the most dangerous for women for this year’s survey—ranking them based on evaluations around healthcare, economic resource, traditional practices, sexual and non-sexual abuse and human trafficking. The Foundation, which last ranked nations in the same vein in 2011, released updated data late last month naming India, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia and Saudi Arabia as the top five most dangerous countries for women. The U.S. is now ranked as the tenth, and tied with Syria as the third-worst nation for its risks of violence and harassment and a justice system which fails survivors.
India was ranked number one this year by the Foundation because of the high risk of sexual violence and being forced into slave labor that faces women and girls there, moving up from fourth in 2011. Meanwhile, experts say the #MeToo movement in the U.S. inevitably had an impact on this year’s results.
“The report demonstrates the enormous threats women face from violence and war. It also points to the importance of women’s movements in working to end violence and build safe and secure societies for all people,” said Bridget Moix, the U.S. Senior Representative and Head of Advocacy at PeaceDirect. “In too many places, violence against women still remains underreported and the space for women and civil society to speak out is actually shrinking.”
The Foundation’s ranking survey was taken between March and May of 2017, right after the viral movement had inspired an outpouring of stories about sexual harassment and assault. According to the CDC statistics in 2010, nearly one in five women in the U.S. have been raped and more than one in three have experienced stalking, rape or violence by an intimate partner—but that is only a count of reported cases.
The #MeToo movement shed light on how widespread and depressingly common sexual violence and harassment really are in the U.S.—and struck a chord internationally with experts who agree that women need to be seen not just as victims, but agents of change, whether they are fighting back against extremism, global conflict or rape culture.
“Women are not only victims, they are central in the fight for peace,” said Moix. “It is crucial to pay attention to women’s roles and viewpoints in order to build safer communities, more resilient societies and shape local solutions for peace. While international bodies urge greater participation of women in peacebuilding, our local partners show that women are often already at the forefront of the mission for a lasting peace.”