India made the list primarily because of its stunningly high levels of female feticide, infanticide and human trafficking. In 2009 alone it was estimated that 100 million people, mostly women and girls, were involved in human trafficking that included sex slavery, forced labor and forced marriage.
Pakistan’s inclusion on the notorious list came largely on the basis of its cultural and religious practices on women, which included acid attacks, forced marriage, and punishment by stoning. It has been reported that nine out of ten women in Pakistan experience some form of domestic violence. This includes over 1,000 women and girls who die each year as victims of honor killings.
While all these countries had compelling arguments for being ranked so high, Somalia’s Women’s Minister, Maryan Qasim, was “surprised” that Somalia did not earn top honors. As she explained, Somalia is “a woman’s hell on earth” given — among other things — its lack of healthcare to treat pregnant women, daily cases of rape, and female genital mutilation which she says is being done “to every single girl in Somalia.”
Of course, there are a slew of nations that didn’t make the top five but certainly deserve an honorable mention, like Russia where 50,000 Russian women and girls are forced into the sex industry each year.
Also, Saudi Arabia, which under Sharia law, concludes a female rape victim to be at fault for the illegal “mixing of genders” and thus punished along with the perpetrator. A recent example of such justice came in January 2011 when a 23-year Saudi rape victim was jailed and given 100 lashes.
That type of justice explains why most rape cases go unreported because victims, according to the US State Department, “face societal reprisal, diminished marriage opportunities, possible imprisonment, or accusations of adultery.”
Finally, in Haiti reports have surfaced that a silent epidemic of rape and gender-based violence is occurring as the country struggles to recover from its devastating earthquake. According to a March 2011 survey conducted by the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice, 14 percent of households surveyed reported that, since the earthquake, one or more members of their household had been victimised by “rape or unwanted touching or both.”
A bitter irony to this onslaught came on the same day the Thomson Reuters survey was released. At that time, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe — the US ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council — presented that body a list of 14 countries it wanted the UN to hold accountable for alleged human rights violations. While there were the usual and justifiable suspects, none of the top five offenders in the Thomson Reuters survey were mentioned.
Jody Williams, the 1997 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize has said “Waging war on the bodies of women has got to stop,” Yet tragically, in all these cases of escalating abuse, the perpetrators rarely suffer any repercussions. It’s perhaps one reason the problem will not end anytime soon.
Frank Crimi is a writer living in San Diego, California. You can read more of Frank’s work at his blog, www.politicallyunbalanced.com.
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