When people think about countries that are difficult for women to live in, they typically tend to imagine Middle Eastern or African nations. Farthest from their minds is, understandably, the United States of America.
But maybe not anymore, according to a recent poll.
The survey, conducted by the Thomas Reuters Foundation, has somehow determined that the United States now ranks among the 10 most dangerous countries for women to live in--right alongside such places as Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The US is the only Western nation to make the list.
It is also the only country on the list not marked by intense ongoing political and/or military conflict, extreme poverty, and discriminatory laws that fail to protect even the most basic interests of women.
So why, then, is the United States in the top 10?
It would appear that the #Metoo movement may be at least partly to blame. The international survey was conducted this past October--shortly after the now-famous allegations came out about Harvey Weinstein.
Survey respondents from around the world included aid and development professionals, academics, health workers, policy makers, NGO workers, journalists, and social commentators. They were asked to rank countries based on six main areas that may affect women: healthcare, discrimination, cultural traditions, sexual violence, non-sexual violence, and human trafficking.
Of those six key categories, the United States only ended up ranking in two--sexual violence and non-sexual violence.
But the roughly 550 so-called global “experts” in women’s issues, who comprised those polled in the survey, apparently felt that “an increasing awareness of sexual violence” and “intimidation of women in the US” puts the first-world nation on par with countries where women are routinely set on fire, or prohibited from owning property and receiving an education.
According to Reuters, America is tied with war-torn Syria in terms of sexual violence. This is allegedly due to “rape, sexual harassment, coercion into sex and a lack of access to justice in rape cases.”
Cindy Southworth, executive vice president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, said on the one hand that, "People want to think income means you're protected from misogyny, and sadly that's not the case. We are going to look back and see this as a very powerful tipping point... We're blowing the lid off and saying '#Metoo and Time's Up'."
However, Ms. Southworth also noted that the media’s excessive portrayal of celebrity violence against women, which she believes may have influenced the survey respondents, is not necessarily an accurate reflection of life in the United States.
“The perception is understandable, but not based on reality.”