U.S. in top 10 most dangerous countries for women

#MeToo and #TimesUp catapult America into the club of world's most anti-women countries.

U.S. in top 10 most dangerous countries for women

These ten countries are the worst ones in the world to be female in.

Image: Statista / Thomson Reuters Foundation (CC)
  • India tops a global ranking of most dangerous countries for women.
  • Most other countries in the Top 10 cluster together in an Indo-Arab-African window of 'female-unfriendliness'.
  • One outlier: the United States – 10th most dangerous country for women.

Worst for women

Philadelphia Women's March, January 2018.

Image: Rob Kall / CC BY-SA 2.0

The worst countries in the world to be a woman? Places torn apart by war, or societies stifled by centuries of male patriarchy, a recent survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation shows. So which category does the United States fall into? Because the US made 10th place – the only western country on the list.

Conducted online, by phone and in person between March 26th and May 4th, the survey polled 548 experts on women's issues spread evenly across Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. Those surveyed included academics and policymakers, healthcare staff and ngo workers, aid and development professionals and social commentators.
They were asked which five of the UN's 193 member states they thought were the most dangerous for women in six areas:
  • healthcare,
  • economic resources,
  • cultural or traditional practices,
  • sexual violence and harassment,
  • non-sexual violence, and
  • human trafficking.
Adding up all the answers produced a list topped by India – in no other country are women more at risk of sexual assault or slave labour, it seems.

"India is raped"

Protests in Delhi in December 2012.

Image: Nilroy (Nilanjana Roy) / CC BY-SA 3.0

India's rise to the top of shame may be the result of increased awareness around women's safety, following a highly publicised rape case in 2012. A 23-year-old woman travelling in a private bus in Delhi was raped by all other male passengers (and the driver), tortured and eventually died from her injuries.

That could explain why Indian government data shows reported cases of crimes against women rose by 83% between 2007 and 2016. An average of one rape every fifteen minutes was reported in India in that year.

But greater awareness has not yet been very effective in reversing deeply-ingrained traditions, attitudes and practices – including female infanticide, forced marriages, sex slavery, domestic servitude, human trafficking and death by stoning.

Good news in the smallest of doses

Mother and child in Parwan province, Afghanistan.

Image: Sgt. Sean A. Terry / public domain

Numbers two and three on the list are Afghanistan and Syria, countries where the social fabric has been well and truly torn by seemingly interminable civil wars.

Good news for Afghanistan, albeit in a homeopathically small dose: it dropped to second place from first, which it occupied in a similar survey conducted in 2011. But the country still fared worst in four of the questions asked, especially regarding healthcare and conflict-related violence.

Almost two decades after America's intervention in Afghanistan, the Taliban continues to gain ground and the situation for women and girls is worsening – especially when it comes to literacy (i.e. education), poverty and gender-based violence.

Syria's seven-year civil war is restricting access to healthcare (resulting in higher deaths during childbirth), fanning violence (both sexual and non-sexual) and increasing the incidence of child marriages. As a result, the country finds itself in third place on the list.

Culture of violence

Street scene in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia.

Image: AMISOM Public Information / public domain

Numbers four and five are Somalia and Saudi Arabia, two countries in the grip of fundamentalist interpretations of Islam.

Somalia's decades of civil war have produced a culture of violence and weakened laws and institutions that could have protected women against its worst excesses.

Slight progress in Saudi Arabia – women are now allowed to drive – was nullified by the arbitrary nature of its male-chauvinism-powered regime – women campaigning against the ban on female drivers were arrested even as that ban was being lifted. Meanwhile, every Saudi woman is still subject to male guardianship: if not her father or her husband, then her brother or even her son.

Surprise addition

The club of shame.

Image: Statista / Thomson Reuters Foundation (CC)

Numbers six to nine on the list are Pakistan, DR Congo, Yemen, Nigeria – countries afflicted in various degrees by conflict, poverty and patriarchy. Singling out human trafficking – a criminal practice turning over $150 billion a year globally – the top three would be India, Libya and Myanmar.

These nine countries are clustered in three zones: centered on the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Afghanistan), the Arabian peninsula (Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia) and the African continent (Nigeria, DR Congo).

The only geographic outlier, and the only western/developed country on the list, is the United States of America. It 'earned' its 10th place due to its ranking in third place when the respondents were asked where women were most at risk of sexual violence, harassment and being coerced into sex.

The U.S. did not figure in the Top 10 for the previous survey in 2011. Its 'surprise' addition this time, experts say, is because of the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp campaign, highlighting issues of sexual violence and harassment – both in the high-profile cases that started the ball rolling, and the many others that came to light since.

More on the Thomson Reuters Foundation here. Here is its statement on the survey cited above.

Strange Maps #979

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This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.

BepiColombo

Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

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Research suggests that aging affects a brain circuit critical for learning and decision-making.

Photo by Reinhart Julian on Unsplash
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The contiguous U.S., horizontally divided into deciles (ten bands of equal population).

Image: u/curiouskip, reproduced with kind permission.
Strange Maps
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