The United States clearly needs improvements in women’s rights, and a cross-generational army of activist women is fighting to make those improvements real.
But when the war on women expands to include maternal mortality rates, child marriage, forced marriage, dowry killings, sanctioned rape and endemic sex trafficking, the U.S.—thanks be to the Constitution—is nowhere near making the 10-worst list.
Portrait of Afghan women in Afghanistan. A large majority, up to 85 percent, of women in Afghanistan give birth with no medical attention. It is the country with the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Afghan girls are also discouraged, sometimes fatally, from seeking an education and Afghan rape victims can be forced, by law, to marry their attacker.
Photo: Ton Koene/Getty Images
Women in colorful headscarves stand outside their thatched homes in a tribal village around Lake Chad. Women in Chad have very few rights. Arranged marriages are still common and often times the girls are around 11 and 12 years old.
Photo: Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images
Women account for 39 percent of all adult HIV infections in India. Also, it is not uncommon for young married women to be tortured or even killed by thier husbands and in-laws when demands for additional dowry are not met. Transgender women in India face additional prejudice and persecution.
Photo: Prakash Singh/Getty Images
Pakistani human rights activists hold candles as they shout slogans during a rally in Lahore on March 7, 2011, on the eve of International Women’s Day. Women are victims of violence and abuse, and the country still lacks a law against domestic violence. In 2010 the country saw around 800 honor killings of women, a practice that has been exported to the West.
Photo: Arif Ali/Getty Images
Democratic Republic of the Congo
In 2011, many Congo residents fled their homes to escape fighting between rebel groups and the Congolese armed forces. Many others were victims of direct attacks and violence perpetrated by the warring parties or by rogue armed militias. Women in the Congo face especially harsh realities; around 1,100 are raped every day. Since 1996, more than 200,000 rapes have been reported in the country.
Photo: Simon Maina/Getty Images
Indonesian workers seeking work overseas attend a class at a training center in Jakarta. Undeterred by sickening tales of abuse by foreign employers, Indonesian women are lining up to work as maids in Saudi Arabia, where in just a few years they can achieve an almost unthinkable dream—financial independence. Almost 90 percent of women who have jobs in Indonesia have experienced workplace sexual harassment.
Photo: Bay Ismoyo/Getty Images
Peulh women of the KiKava village in the Mali desert gather in Kumara, Mali. There are no laws against female genital mutilation in Mali, and a large number of women have been subjected to it.
Photo by Xavier Rossi/Getty Images
Young Yemeni girls join women flashing the V-sign for victory during a ceremony to honor Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman. A Yemeni journalist and activist, Karman is known as the Iron Woman and Mother of the Revolution for her role in the Arab Spring. She was awarded the Nobel in 2011 for her work in the nonviolent struggle for women’s rights and the safety of women. In Yemen, there are no laws against spousal rape, and once a girl is married, at as young as eight years old, she is forced to live with her husband and his family and give up dreams of education, career or autonomy.
Photo: Mohammed Huwais/Getty Images
Kurdish women flash the victory sign and chant slogans during a demonstration in Istanbul. Women in Turkey are often forced into early marriage and domestic slavery. Girls between the ages of 16 and 19 make up 26 percent of all brides in Turkey. Around 74 percent of working-age Turkish women are unemployed and over three million are illiterate.
Photo: Saygin Serdaroglu/Getty Images
Family and friends of those killed in the school hostage crisis cry during a mass funeral in the rain in Beslan, southern Russia, on September 6, 2004. Human trafficking has been an ongoing issue in Russia. It’s been estimated that up to 57,750 women are trafficked from Russia each year.