This article by The Thomson Reuters Foundation titled “EXCLUSIVE – India most dangerous country for women with sexual violence rife” rank orders the countries in the world based on danger to women. Among the countries listed, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India, and Somalia. Not all that surprising.
What is disturbing, is that the United States was included on the list. Is the United States really comparable to Congo when it comes to women’s experience with violence?
I was skeptical about this.
This Was Not a Study
It was a poll of “experts” although it is not clear from Reuters what criteria was used to select them.
The information about dangerous countries also was not produced from a consistent methodology. The survey asked the individuals polled, which countries they “thought” were the most dangerous.
The reasons given were varied. Physical violence, war, slavery and women’s rights were cited. But the reason the United States was included in the list was not for these reasons.
So Why is the United States on This List?
The #MeToo campaign has brought to light many cases where prominent actresses (and actors in some cases) were sexually harassed, and had to trade sex for roles in movies. This was headlining the news for many months.
There is a question of bias when topics in the media are covered for a long period of time. It gives the perception that issues are more prominent then they actually are. Did those who conducted the survey take this into account when they published this information? How biased were the perceptions of those polled? There is no way of knowing.
This is an Inconsistent Comparison.
The survey conflates sexual harassment in the west, with slavery and death in Africa and the Middle East. It does not give information on the severity of danger to Women, rather, it gives insight on the perceptions and biases of those polled.
It is also not clear what percentage of women are affected by the criteria levied on the 10 countries listed. This would be a more accurate measurement for rank ordering countries based on Women’s safety. The problem is, that this data is entirely reliant on information being reported accurately. In western countries, crime statistics are much more complete, than data collected in war torn countries. So if you rank order countries, there will be a higher bias in western countries, in theory, because of lack of data.
This was a survey, not a study. It measured what people thought, not actual data. There was no consistent methodology for rank ordering countries, because the methodology varied from person to person.
Not to discount experiences of anyone, man or woman who has been a victim of terrible, malevolent behavior. But ranking the United States in the bottom 10 countries for women’s safety? Probably not accurate.
Title Image Credit: Marc Nozell from Merrimack, New Hampshire, USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D