That girls have fewer opportunities than boys, we have also noticed during our travels. Being women, the bad situation of girls across the world concerns us. That is why we write on forced prostitution, child trafficking and female genital mutilation. Poverty and the lack of women’s rights often go hand in hand. Based on various reports we made a list of the worst countries to grow up as a girl. A top 10 of misogynistic countries, but don’t be mistaken, there are many more.
These are just a few examples of women and girls whom we met in recent years. Girls belonging to the poor parts of their society. But in these countries they also have a middle and upper class of wealthy and educated people with opportunities for girls.
There are countries however, where even boys barely stand a chance. Countries that are so poor that girls most certainly will have to deal with denial, exploitation, lack of health care, no opportunities for education, let alone jobs. Countries like Afghanistan or Somalia.
In 2015 the United Nations adopted the Global Goals. Stating that there should be no more inequality between boys and girls from 2030 on. It concerns matters such as health and education. According to Plan Netherlands, an NGO, we know too little of the barriers that girls worldwide find on their path.
We don’t know, for example, whether girls leave school because of sexual violence, teen pregnancy or because they are married off as a child.
In the misogynistic countries countries that follow in this article it is extremely hard to grow up as a girl. Not only because of infant mortality and access to prenatal care, nutrition, education and economic opportunities. But also based on violence against women and the factors that prevent women from being able to exercise their rights.
Somalia has been showing up on every list that includes disadvantaged, dangerous and misogynistic countries. Very high mortality among women who give birth. Only 9 percent of the women can make use of medical facilities.
On top of that there is a very high infant mortality in the first years of life. And if you survive as a girl, rape and genital mutilation are lurking. Over 95% of women are mutilated between their 4th and 11th year of life.
2. Democratic Republic of the Congo
They are raped, sometimes with bayonets. In addition, women are shot in their vaginas according to research reports. “Congo is the rape capital of the world,” said Margot Wallstrom, the special envoy of the United Nations (UN) on sexual violence in conflict.
Afghanistan scores high on infant mortality and a poor health, but also on violence against women including rape and infanticide. Add to this extreme poverty and then you know that the odds are very low that girls stand a chance in this country.
Some 87 percent of the women are illiterate. Of the girls, 54% is married off between their 15th and 19th year of life. Girls have no legal rights. All these facts make that Afghanistan stays high on the list of the misogynistic countries.
Afghanistan is also the country where the phenomenon bacha posh takes place: Girls pretending to be boys until puberty. It is the only way to make money or go to school since work or good education is beyond their reach.
Despite the fact that women perform most of the work on the land in Kenya, the Kenyan women receive only a small portion of the income that they generate. According to Ruth, whom we interviewed, women are held responsible for household, income and taking care for the children. “Especially in the villages, men do nothing.”
It is estimated that only 29 percent of women earn an official salary. The prospects for girls are also troubled by the education they receive which is worse than that of boys. In addition, there are many HIV-infected young girls as a result of the believes that young virgins prevent AIDS.
For a country that was considered to be one of the booming economies, Brazil has some alarming statistics. Reports indicate that every 15 seconds a woman is attacked, and a woman is killed every two hours.
In addition, the country has the dubious nickname: capital of child prostitution. In our report on child prostitution in Fortaleza, we noticed that young girls are forced in the sex industry without having acces to contraceptives and that pregnancies resulted in giving up the babies to orphanages.
The Penal Code prohibits abortion with the possibility of imprisonment for three years.
With some 4,000 women disappearing each year and about 22.7 murdered women in every 100,000, Mexico is one of the most misogynistic countries. In fact, they have a word for the murder of women in this country: feminicide.
Racism, an incompetent police force and an ingrained macho culture are, according to the editor of the Globe and Mail the basis of that enormous problem.
The largest number of casualties happen in the states bordering the United States. Often the murdered and disappeared women are of Indigenous descent and were drawn to the north in the hope of building a better life in the United States.
Mexico’s legal system does not protect sexual violence. There are penalties but they are rarely executed with the result that women rarely report the violence.
Pakistan has been topping the list of the most misogynistic countries. Even in lists of countries warning women not to visit them, Pakistan is always present. Many religious and cultural practices pose a threat to women.
Child marriage, forced marriage, systematic rape within marriage, acid attacks and stoning are just a few examples of the horrible things happening to women.
According to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), nearly 1,100 women were killed by relatives in Pakistan last year in such killings, while many more cases go unreported. Of all women, 90 percent suffer from domestic violence.
In March 2016 physical violence against women was penalized. In a country where women are a piece of furniture, and you can abuse them if you are not satisfied with their cooking, or because they disagree with you, it was a milestone.
And in October 2016 more good news for women when new legislation would give honour killings a mandatory life sentence. Previously, killers could be pardoned by a victim’s family to avoid a jail term. Now forgiveness will only spare them the death penalty.
Neighbouring India is not any safer for women. We reported earlier about the lofts where girls are being held prison for the sex industry. Despite the fact that India is a democracy, half of the citizens – women – are not safe.
Notorious examples of gang rapes and the hanging of girls after they are raped, also reached the Dutch press. India remains one of the most misogynistic countries and far from safe.
Pramsu, an young Indian student who lived for a while in Mrs. Villager’s housee, once told her that his parents agonize when is his sister travels by train from the university town where she studies to their home.
In general she is always accompanied by a male relative to protect her, but sometimes it happens that there is no one to accompany on the more than 1,000 kilometer journey.
“A woman traveling alone, asks for it, is unfortunately the prevailing view in my country”, he said as we talked about the film India’s daughter. The documentary on the gang rape of the 23-year-old Jyoti Singh, who traveled by bus after having been to the movies.
Researchers in India came 10 years ago to the conclusion that over 50 million girls have been victims of feticide – the removal of the embryo if it is a girl – . But if you survive that, chances are you are married off, raped or trafficked for the sex industry.
The systematic sexual harassment of girls and women is not only a scourge for women in the country. Many women traveling Egypt, have reported not to feel safe in this country. Since the Arab Spring when women protesting in Tahrir Square were attacked by groups of men, the country has become synonymous with violence against women.
Again, one of the major problems when it comes to support for women, is the legal system, Domestic violence is not criminalized and women’s rights are completely ignored when it comes to matters such as marriage, divorce, custody of offspring or inheritance.
And then there’s a group of countries where poverty is so severe that it is particularly threatening the girls. Poverty is sexist. One such country is the West African country of Niger, where 28% of babies die at birth.
That’s 104 deaths in every 1000 newborns. In comparison, in the Netherlands there are four in every 1000. At the age of five 1 out of 10 girls dies . Only half of the children go to primary school. Of the girls not even 17 percent.
Three-quarters of the girls are married before the age of 18 hoping to have a roof over their head. More than a quarter (28%) marries before their fifteenth birthday. Nearly half of all girls have given birth to one or more children before they reach the age of 18.
Countries that are comparable to Niger, are Mali, Central African Republic, Yemen, Chad and Ivory Coast. These are the countries UNICEF and Plan are aiming for with their Global Goals of 2030.
Misogynistic countries are of all religious denominations and the poorer the country the more likely that women lose out. Conversely, most of the countries of North-West Europe are among the most women-friendly countries. With The Netherlands somewhere in 10th position and countries like Norway and Iceland usually in first place.
Tekst: Anneke de Bundel – Beeld: Nicole Franken