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The world''s most dangerous megacities for women 2017
by Thomson Reuters Foundation
With cities across the globe growing rapidly, the future looks set to be urban with an estimated 66 percent of the population to be living in urban areas by 2050 up from 54 percent today. The number of megacities housing over 10 million people has tripled since 1990 to 31 with the United Nations forecasting this will rise to 41 by 2030. While cities can drive development and reduce poverty, rapid urban growth can also create a new set of problems if the right infrastructure is not in place or policies don’t ensure the benefits of city life are equally shared.
In the first poll of its kind, the Thomson Reuters Foundation asked experts in women’s issues which of the world’s megacities are safe for women – and which need to do more to ensure women are not at risk of sexual violence and harassment and harmful cultural practices and have access to healthcare, finance and education.
Delhi, Sao Paulo seen as worst megacities for sex attacks on women - poll results reveal.
Five years after the fatal gang rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi, the Indian capital was on Monday paired with Brazil''s Sao Paulo as the world''s worst megacities for sexual violence against women in a poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The December 2012 attack of a 23-year-old woman was a watershed in the fight for women''s rights in India, the world''s largest democracy, prompting thousands to take to the streets demanding action against rising sex attacks.
The public outcry not only forced authorities to strengthen gender laws, establish speedy courts for rape and set up a fund for rape victims, but also opened up the conversation on sexual violence in the largely conservative, patriarchal nation.
However Delhi - a metropolis of more than 26 million people - remains known as India''s "rape capital".
And alongside Sao Paulo, it came joint bottom in the survey when experts on women''s issues were polled about the risk women run of encountering sexual violence in 19 different megacities.
"I''m not surprised by the results as they''re based on perceptions. India and Brazil have seen a lot of media attention on sexual violence in recent years," said Rebecca Reichmann Tavares, head of U.N. Women in India who also worked in Brazil.
"Sexual violence in both these cities is, of course, a reality, but there isn''t any definitive data to suggest that rates are higher in Delhi and Sao Paulo than any other city."
The survey asked 380 experts in cities with populations of more than 10 million to assess the risk of sexual violence and harmful cultural practices to women, as well as rank women''s access to health care and economic opportunities.
The Egyptian capital Cairo was rated the most dangerous city for women overall and rated third worst for sexual violence, followed by Mexico city and Dhaka. Tokyo was seen as the safest city for women in terms of sexual violence.
Public awareness on sex attacks in Delhi has surged since the Delhi bus attack and thrown a global spotlight on gender violence in the world''s second most populous nation.
Indian newspapers offer a daily array of sex crimes. Girls molested in school, professional women raped by taxi drivers while commuting home, village teens duped, trafficked and sold to brothels in the red-light districts of cities.
Brazilians are fed a similar stories, with multiple reports of assaults on women and girls in Sao Paulo - Brazil''s most populous city with 21 million people, according to U.N. figures.
In September, thousands of Brazilian women took to social media to demand better support and access to justice after a series of sex attacks on buses where the accused were released due to a lack of evidence.
In one case, the released man was re-arrested two days later after he was accused of attacking another woman on a bus.
"I do not believe in the system. If I file a police report, I''m afraid the accused will come after me," said Clara Averbuck, a writer who was assaulted by a taxi driver and started an online campaign - #MyAbuserDriver - that went viral.
In India, authorities have been forced to act. This includes stricter punishments for gender crimes, a 24-hour women''s helpline and fast-track courts for rape cases as well as a fund to finance crisis centres for victims.
Women''s desks in many of the city''s police stations have been established, thousands of police received gender sensitisation classes, and there is increased patrolling, surveillance and more checkpoints across Delhi at night.
Companies, charities, students and even individuals have also launched countless initiatives - from smart phone safety apps and gender lessons for taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers to women''s self-defence classes and female cab services.
Media reporting on sex crimes in both countries has helped break the silence, shame and fear of rape, but reports of sex crimes continue to rise. There were 2,155 rapes recorded in Delhi in 2016 - a rise of 67 percent from 2012, according to police data.
Sao Paulo had 2,287 rapes reported in July this year compared to 2,868 in all 2016, according to government figures, but Brazilian think-tank, the Institute of Applied Economic Research, estimates only 10 percent of rape cases are reported.
Gislaine Caresia, coordinator of policies for women at Sao Paulo''s city hall, said authorities were looking for private partners to implement a project to track violence against women which could help indicate how to target the crime.
"Everyone has this perception that domestic and family violence has increased but we do not have specific data of it," Caresia told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
In a slum in Delhi''s outskirts, auto-rickshaw driver Suresh sits on a bed in a one-roomed concrete house, telling how his teenage sister was dragged to a nearby wasteland and raped by a neighbour as she walked home from college in March.
"This city is unsafe. We know it is, but what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to lock her up?," he said. "We see the stories every day in the news. Nothing has changed since the Delhi gang rape. Nothing."
Authorities attribute the surge in numbers to more victims reporting crimes, rather than more sexual violence occurring. Activists say it is probably a combination of both.
Campaigners said sex attacks were often not reported due the "dishonour" associated with rape, as well as a lack of faith in a male-dominated, often insensitive police and judicial system.
"For too long, the perpetrators have acted with a sense of impunity. Certainty of punishment is the best deterrent," said Rishi Kant, a supreme court lawyer and activist from Shakti Vahini, a Delhi-based charity that supports victims.
* Access the complete poll results and more stories via the link below.

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Empower women and girls and everyone''s future is brighter
by EU-UN Joint Communiqué
20 Sept. 2017
Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread and devastating human rights violations across the globe. It affects all societies, cutting across generational, socio-economic, educational and geographic boundaries.
It is estimated that 35% of women have experienced violence at some point in their lives. This figure is as high as 70% in some countries. This scourge is a barrier to gender equality, women''s and girls empowerment and overall sustainable development, and an impediment to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Global and continuous engagement is therefore required in all countries and regions to overcome it.
To assist in delivering on this urgent priority, the UN and the European Union (EU) will bring together our comparative advantages by pooling capacities, resources, expertise and current efforts. We will engage in a renewed policy dialogue with partner countries and organisations around the world.
A financial commitment of EUR 500 million with the EU as the principal contributor at this stage – will support targeted actions over the next few years. To scale up and broaden its reach, we invite other donors to join this initiative.
The Spotlight Initiative aims at achieving transformational change at the regional level, concentrating efforts in Asia, the Pacific region, Africa (particularly Sub-Saharan Africa), Latin America and the Caribbean.
Guided by evidence, the initiative will focus strategically on the most prevalent forms of VAWG in different regions, including sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices; specific forms of domestic and family violence; femicide; trafficking in human beings; and economic (labour) exploitation.
Consistent with the principles of the 2030 Agenda, the Spotlight Initiative will apply a rights-based approach, and give particular attention to the most marginalised women and girls in order to "leave no-one behind".
We - the UN and the EU – will continue to work around the world, and in all fora, to empower women and girls, defend their rights, strengthen their voice, and ensure their safety and full control over their own bodies and their own destinies, while motivating others, including governments and civil society organisations, to partner with us in this important endeavour.
The Spotlight Initiative provides a unique opportunity for all of our partners to help us collectively step up our efforts to combat VAWG, promote gender equality and build a safer, fairer and more sustainable world for all.
Speaking at the launch, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated: “It is a harsh but true reality – 1 in 3 women will face violence throughout their lifetime. Violence against women and girls devastates lives, and causes pain across generations. “The Spotlight Initiative is truly historic,” he added. “This Fund is a pioneering investment in gender equality and women''s empowerment. When we shine a spotlight on the empowerment of the world''s women and girls, everyone''s future is brighter.”
EU High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini noted: “The European Union is committed to combatting all forms of violence against women and girls, as they undermine our core fundamental rights and values, such as dignity, access to justice and gender equality. We need first to ensure that we keep women and girls safe, in order to empower them to deploy their full potential.”
EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica added: "Violence against women and girls is one of the greatest injustices of our time, which crosses all borders, generations, nationalities and communities. It is a serious barrier to any society''s full development potential. To make a real change, we invite all partners to join our Spotlight Initiative for a world in which all women and girls can truly shine!”
Remarks by Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, at the launch of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to End Violence against Women:
Gender-based violence is the most de-humanizing form of gender oppression. It exists in every society, in every country, rich and poor, in every religion, and in every culture. If there was anything that was ever universal, it is gender inequality and the violence that it breeds against women. It is also one violation and crime that is perpetrated by relatives and people that women trust, love and depend on, bringing about conflict in the lives of women. We have to bring these people to book. The level of tolerance in society for this crime is seen by the extent to which law enforcement is able to ignore the steps that they need to take to prevent and to prosecute this crime.
When we talk about one out of three women having experienced violence in their lifetime, this is based on scientific research led by WHO. A lot of the data gathered came from health practitioners. Not all women who experience violence report these crimes, so we can deduce that the figures may be even higher. Emergency rooms in hospitals, dentists, eye specialists, orthopedic surgeons, mental health specialists, and even pathologists give us the statistics that explain to us how complex this crime is and how frequent it is.
For the longest time violence was regarded as something that was private. The UNiTE campaign to end violence against women, which involves many of you in the United Nations, has helped us a lot to bring this crime into the forefront of attention and to make sure that it is not private.
We have also been able, with the help of many of you—civil society, the EU itself, and many governments who are here today—to make sure that we do not allow this crime to be treated as anything else but as a crime, just like any other. It is not acceptable to regard violence against women from a partner as a crime of passion. There is no passion in beating up and killing anyone.
When a man kills a woman it is murder. When a man kills a woman, we often hear that passion is involved in it, as if it has to be justified, and the perpetrator has to be given the benefit of the doubt. With the work that we are hoping to do now, we will be dealing with the fundamental stereotypes that perpetrate this kind of outlook and value system.
We will be engaging and dealing with the challenges of families that we need on our side, with communities and men and boys, and strengthening civil society and women’s movements who have been in the forefront of this work with very limited resources.
We will be dealing with the power relations that rob women of the capacity to decide about their own bodies. We hope this Spotlight Initiative will be a game changer. It is critical for us to build a movement for gender equality that is able to work across all countries and all nations determined to be game changers, and to ensure that by 2030, as projected in the Sustainable Development Goals, we are in a much different world.
This endeavour is also about bringing young people and men and boys to take responsibility, so that it is they who will say: as a man and a boy, ‘I will not marry a child’, as a man and a boy, ‘I will not beat up a woman’, as a man and a boy, ‘I will not stand by and watch a situation in my home and at work where a woman is being abused’.

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