By Kelly Wakefield
A month ago, the UK media reported on findings from the Trust Law Danger Poll (213 gender experts from five continents were asked to rank countries by overall perceptions of danger as well as by six risks. The risks were health threats, sexual violence, non-sexual violence, cultural or religious factors, lack of access to resources and trafficking) highlighting the world’s five most dangerous countries for women. Afghanistan topped the poll, emerging worst in three of the six risk catgories, followed by Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia. Threats to women in these countries range from domestic abuse and economic discrimination to female foeticide, genital mutilation and acid attacks. The Telegraph reported Antonella Notari, head of Women Change Makers, a group that supports women social entrepreneurs around the world as saying that “ongoing conflict, Nato airstrikes and cultural practices combined make Afghanistan a very dangerous place for women.”
Chatterjee (2011) discusses how local conflict may be influenced by processes of globalisation and argues that in order to understand how globalisation may be implicated in local violent events, it is essential to develop a nuanced understanding of the complexities of global–local interaction in places. The case study used was of a Hindu-Muslim conflict which happened in 2002 in Ahmedabad city, India. Although Chatterjee’s article does not directly discuss gender explicitly, it is a useful article to read to grasp a better understanding of how dangers to women can manifest within particular countries and cultures.
The Telegraph highlighted how ‘the poll showed that subtle dangers such as discrimination that don’t grab headlines are sometimes just as significant risks for women as bombs, bullets, stonings and systematic rape in conflict zones’. These subtle dangers are seemingly less headline grabbing than violent outbursts but very much underpin the everyday lives of women in these countries. For example 87% of Aghan women are illiterate, in Congo 57% of pregnant women are anaemic, in Pakistan women earn 82% less than men, in India 44.5% of women are married before they are 18 years of age and in Somalia only 9% of women give birth in a health facility. These statistics truly make the countries in the Danger Poll dangerous to women because of their ingrained nature.
Chatterjee, I (2011) How are they othered? Globalisation, identity and violence in an Indian city. The Geographical Journal, Online.
The Telegraph, 15th June 2011, Afghanistan named most dangerous country for women