A recent study conducted by ValueChampion, a Singaporean research company, ranked India as the least safest country in the Asia Pacific, followed by Indonesia, then the Philippines.
Indicators for the ranking included women’s access to healthcare, laws and policies for women’s safety, access to family planning resources, and opportunity for educational and career growth.
Life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality rate, as well as access to family planning were also considered.
Despite efforts from the government and civil society organisations to propose and impose more policies that protect women, patriarchal ideologies persist.
One in three Indonesian women are reported to have been victims of sexual or domestic violence throughout their life, according to a nationwide survey. In 2018, a girl was sent to prison after undergoing an abortion because she was raped by her own brother.
Indonesian law states that women can go through abortions only until the sixth week of pregnancy. But pregnancy does not become apparent until the tenth or twelfth week, which by that time, would make abortion illegal.
Conservative Muslim groups also oppose passing the bill against sexual violence, citing it as “pro-adultery” and “pro-LGBT.” The bill was proposed for the benefit of victims of sexual violence to have a legal basis for their rights.
Experts say that the bill faces opposition because Indonesians have difficulty “separating a criminal act from the social norms that govern it.”
While Philippine women are statistically more likely to get better education than men, sexual and domestic violence against women is still rampant.
Even though there are millions of unplanned pregnancies every year coupled with a high infant and maternal mortality rate, Catholic leaders are vehemently against the Reproductive Health Law which aims to provide ease of access to basic health necessities such contraceptives, sexual education, and maternal care for women.
To make matters worse, the Philippine President himself perpetuates a language and culture of misogyny.
On the other end of the spectrum, Singapore and New Zealand are tied as the safest countries for women in the Asia-Pacific region.
The research also admitted that some factors, such as the rates of unreported or under-reported sexual harassment crimes also affected the results of the study as in the case of Japan.
The complete rankings are as follows:
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