London: New Delhi emerged as the worst cities when respondents were asked if women could live there without the risk of sexual violence, including rape, attacks or harassment.
The fatal gang rape of a woman on a Delhi bus in 2012 led to a wave of public protests and jolted many in the world’s second most populous country out of apathy over the treatment of women, forcing the government to toughen penalties for sex crimes.
Since then a spike in media reports, government campaigns and civil society programmes, have increased public awareness of women’s rights and emboldened victims to register abuses.
Authorities recorded four rapes every hour in India in 2015.
“Even after the Delhi gang rape, we are seeing rising cases of sexual violence. All the measures taken so far are welcome, but they are not enough,” said lawyer Rishi Kant from Shakti Vahini, a charity that supports rape victims.
“These rapists act because they know they won’t get caught. So strengthening the police and courts to effectively investigate, prosecute, convict and punish is key.”
In Sao Paulo, women are increasingly using social media to denounce sexual violence, including writer Clara Averbuck, who launched an online campaign in August after she was sexually assaulted by a taxi driver.
A poll conducted by Datafolha for the Brazilian Forum of Public Security this year found one in three Brazilian women aged 16 or over had suffered physical, verbal or psychological violence in the previous year but 52 percent did not report it.
“I’ve never been so violated as in Brazil,” Averbuck told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “I‘m not speaking only about physical rape. In London, in New York, I feel very comfortable because they treat me like a human being. Here they treat you less than a human being.”
Cairo is the world’s most dangerous megacity for women while London is the best, according to the first international experts’ poll on how females fare in the rising number of cities with over 10 million people.
The Thomson Reuters Foundation survey asked experts in women’s issues in 19 megacities how well women are protected from sexual violence, from harmful cultural practices, and if they have access to good healthcare, finance and education.
Cairo, the capital of the Arab world’s most populous country, fared worst globally, followed by Karachi in Pakistan, Kinshasa in Democratic Republic of the Congo, then the Indian capital New Delhi.
London was ranked as the most woman-friendly, then Tokyo and Paris.
Women’s rights campaigners in Cairo said traditions dating back centuries made it a tough city, with discrimination rife.
“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.
“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 high-profile Egyptian journalist and women’s rights campaigner Shahira Amin.