A new poll conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation released on Monday suggests that Cairo is the world’s most dangerous megacity for women.
From a UN list of 19 cities, the Egyptian capital ranked the worst megacity for women regarding harmful cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, while England ranked the best.
In terms of risking being exposed to sexual harassment, Cairo ranked the third worst megacity, after Delhi and Sao Paulo.
The survey asked international experts on women’s issues in 19 megacities around the world about how women fare in terms of risking being exposed to sexual violence and harassment, harmful cultural practices and the extent to which they have access to healthcare, economic opportunities, and education.
In every city, Reuters asked at least 15 experts specializing in women’s issues, including academics, NGO workers, healthcare professionals, policy-makers and social commentators.
Women’s rights groups and campaigners claim that centuries-old cultural practices have contributed to Cairo still being a very tough city to live in for women.
“We’re still operating under a conservative country and it’s hard to take any radical progressive steps in the area of women and women’s laws,” said Omaima Abou-Bakr, co-founder of the Cairo-based campaign group Women and Memory Forum, Reuters reported.
“Everything about the city is difficult for women. We see women struggling in all aspects. Even a simple walk on the street, and they are subjected to harassment, whether verbal or even physical,” said Egyptian journalist and women’s rights campaigner Shahira Amin.
Violence against women remains a major problem throughout the world. In Egypt, a 2015 survey showed that as many as 30 percent of married women are subjected to domestic violence by their spouses.
According to a 2013 UN report, 99.3 percent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment, while 51.6 percent of Egyptian men admitted to committing acts of sexual harassment.