Somalia worst place to be a woman: minister

Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:13am GMT

By Emma Batha

LONDON, June 15 (TrustLaw) - A Thomson Reuters Foundation poll may have found that Afghanistan is the most dangerous place to be a woman, but Somalia's women's minister is astonished any country could be worse than her own.

"I'm completely surprised because I thought Somalia would be first on the list, not fifth," said Maryan Qasim.

The lawless country has been engulfed in conflict for 20 years. But the greatest risk to women's lives is not war but birth. One woman dies for every 100 live births, according to U.N. figures -- one of the highest rates in the world.

"The most dangerous thing a woman in Somalia can do is to become pregnant," Qasim said. "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."

The poll by TrustLaw (, a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation, marked the launch of its new TrustLaw Women section, a global hub of news and information on women's legal rights.

TrustLaw asked more than 200 gender experts to pick the world's most dangerous countries for women. Somalia trailed behind Afghanistan, Congo, Pakistan and India.

But Qasim described Somalia as a "living hell" for women struggling to feed their children amid war and drought.

The constant risk of getting shot or raped, the lack of education and healthcare and practices like female genital mutilation make women's lives unbelievably hard, she said.   Continued...

<p>Internally displaced Somali women queue before receiving relief food in Madina district, southern Mogadishu, March 28, 2011. REUTERS/Feisal Omar</p>
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.