Life as a woman can be difficult. We have to deal with sexism in the workplace, unequal pay and incessant catcalling. It’s tough. But these first-world problems pale in comparison to what women in the following countries have to worry about every single day.
Rape, abuse, murder. Millions of women in developing countries face dangers and threats we can hardly even imagine. Read on to see where life is most dangerous for women.
Afghanistan has been ranked as the worst country in the world for women. In this Middle Eastern country, women have virtually no rights. And if they so much as express a desire for more rights, they risk their lives.
“Ongoing conflict, NATO airstrikes and cultural practices…make Afghanistan a very dangerous place for women,” said Antonella Notari, head of the social entrepreneurship group Women Change Makers. “Women who do attempt to speak out…are often intimidated or killed.”
Underage marriages, punishment by stoning, dowry murder and “honor killings” (all of which are religious practices) make Pakistan one of the most unsafe countries for women. Men are free to conduct honor killings when a woman won’t bend to the will of her family or husband. It’s barbaric and archaic, and according to Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission, over 1,000 Pakistani women are killed in this “honorable” way each year.
India is a hub for sex trafficking. Not only is it a source, but it’s also a destination and transit country for trafficking, and experts estimate that millions of women and children are trafficked each year in India. Add that to the high rates of female feticide (aborting female fetuses) and sexual assault and gang rape, and India becomes a very dangerous place to be a woman.
For women, everyday life in Somalia presents threats, dangers and violence. Rape, child marriage and female genital mutilation are common practices in Somalia. In fact, 95 percent of women in Somalia have been victims of genital mutilation. If that weren’t sickening enough, women can hardly ever expect a safe pregnancy in Somalia.
“The most dangerous thing a woman in Somalia can do is become pregnant,” claimed Somali Women’s Minister Maryan Qasim. “There are no hospitals, no healthcare, no nothing.”
Women in Egypt are constantly aware of the threat of sexual harassment and assault. Since Egypt’s judicial system does not criminalize domestic violence, many Egyptian women experience violence at the hands of their fathers, brothers and husbands. In addition, women have no rights in marriage or divorce.
Honduras has the highest murder rate for a country outside of a war zone, so it should come as no surprise that women have it particularly bad in this Central American country. “Femicide” – the murder of a woman simply because she is a woman – is staggeringly high in Honduras. In fact, Honduras has the highest femicide rate in the entire world, according to the UN.
"Men can do anything they want to women in Honduras,” said Neesa Medina, an analyst for Honduras’ Center for Women’s Rights.
Colombian women are at high risk for domestic violence, and Colombia’s justice system does little to punish domestic violence perpetrators. More and more women are speaking out about the issue, but Colombian women still live in one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
All over Mexico, women have to worry about being assaulted, kidnapped or murdered. Due to the turbulent drug trade and human trafficking rings in Mexico, life in this country is rife with dangers, particularly for women. Mexico's epidemic of missing and murdered women is spiraling out of control. Thousands of women disappear every year in Mexico, and most are never seen or heard from again.
On the surface, Brazil may sound like a great place to live, with its beautiful beaches and vibrant culture. But for Brazilian women, everyday life is filled with dangers. Every 15 seconds, a woman is assaulted in Brazil. Every two hours, a woman is murdered. This South American country is a very dangerous place to have two X chromosomes.
Women in Kenya have dismal options for education, and they only receive a fraction of the income they generate. One of the biggest dangers facing women in Kenya is HIV, as infection rates are high among the female population. This is largely due to the fact that Kenyan women have virtually no access to sexual health services.
Gender-based violence is rampant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to the Thomas Reuters Foundation Services, an estimated 1,152 women are raped each day in the Congo. That’s nearly half a million every year, and that's why the Congo has been dubbed the "rape capital of the world."
While living in any of the aforementioned countries is especially dangerous if you’re a woman, there are also many other countries women should be wary of visiting. In addition to the countries listed above, women should be extremely cautious when visiting Jamaica, Morocco, Peru, Ecuador, Turkey and Guatemala — especially if traveling alone.
Millions of women around the world live in fear of violence every day. Their governments and male relatives may not be helping, but there are many organizations that are striving to improve the lives of women in these dangerous countries. International NGOs continue to fight against the inequality, violence and oppression that women face globally. Ultimately, though, lasting change for women will have to come from within each country.
One of the greatest problems facing women around the world is domestic violence. Even in Western countries, domestic violence affects the lives of countless women. Fortunately, women in Western countries have options, unlike so many women across the globe. So if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, don’t stay silent.