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Somalia is the fifth-worst country in the world to be a woman, according to a global survey that asked gender experts about domestic abuse, violence and economic discrimination.
The poll, released Wednesday by Thomson Reuters Foundation’s legal news service TrustLaw to mark a new women’s section, placed only Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and India above the chaotic Horn of Africa nation.
213 gender experts were asked to rank countries by perceptions of danger and other risk factors, including health, sexual violence and religious or cultural factors. Somalia showed high maternal mortality, rape and female genital mutilation, as well as poor access to education, healthcare and economic opportunities.
"I'm completely surprised because I thought Somalia would be first on the list, not fifth," Somalia’s Minister for Women, Maryan Qasim, told TrustLaw. "The most dangerous thing a woman in Somalia can do is to become pregnant. When a woman becomes pregnant her life is 50-50 because there is no antenatal care at all. There are no hospitals, no healthcare, no nothing.
"Add to that the rape cases that happen on a daily basis, the female genital mutilation that is being done to every single girl in Somalia. Add to that the famine and the drought. Add to that the fighting (which means) you can die any minute, any day,” she added.
TrustLaw said 95% of women undergo female genital mutilation, usually between the ages of 4 and 11, while only 9% of women give birth in a health facility, quoting figures given by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Women in Somalia also face a strict interpretation of strict Islamic law in areas under the control of militant Islamist group al-Shabaab
In one particular case that horrified the world, al-Shabaab in 2008 stoned to death a 13-year-old rape victim, accusing her of adultery.
For the full results of the poll, click here.