It goes without saying that the last two years have been challenging for all travelers—but with travel now booming and solo female travel on the rise, women need to be aware of global risks, especially in light of incidents like the killing of several travelers on Mexico’s Riviera Maya earlier this year and the case of Sarah Everard, who was abducted and murdered by a police officer in London. In an attempt to help determine the safest and most dangerous places for women travelers, SafetyDetectives—an international publishing group of cybersecurity experts and privacy researchers—recently issued a report on the state of women’s safety in different regions of the world.
In its report, SafetyDetectives ranks the world’s most dangerous countries for women, as well as the safest countries. “This study highlights the fact that violence against women is not a geographically isolated phenomenon; it’s a problem all over the world, even in places that are relatively safer than others,” says Melissa Haun, author of the SafetyDetectives report.
SafetyDetectives analyzed 78 countries to see which are the safest and the most dangerous for women in terms of the number of crimes committed against them as well as the laws protecting them. According to SafetyDetectives, not every world country was included on the list since many countries don’t have publicly available data on crime. “Before discovering the results themselves, the most surprising thing was how hard it was for us to find the data—and not only in countries where women’s rights are inferior to men’s but also in many countries where they’re equal,” says Yevheniia Hordiienko, a member of the SafetyDetectives research team. “The lack of transparency and sometimes the vagueness of reports made it very hard for our team to gather the data. This is the main reason why the list of countries we managed to compare is not as big as we expected.”
SafetyDetectives analyzed the number of crimes per 100,000 women, including sexual abuse, murder, domestic violence and rape (non-exhaustive). For each of these variables, the company drew data from publicly available government statistics, official police reports and studies by reputable institutions such as the WHO, the UN, RAINN, the Canadian Women’s Foundation and other organizations dedicated to women’s safety. When it came to women’s legal rights, the company looked at domestic violence laws, pregnancy discrimination and more.
Coming in as the safest country in the world for women: Japan, with Poland at number 2 and Bosnia and Herzegovina at number 3. Other countries with the lowest reported crimes against women include Slovenia, Italy and Greece. Egypt is also in the top 10, but as Haun points out, this may be misleading. “Data ranks Egypt high on the list of ‘safe nations,’ though this is misrepresentative,” she says. “Cultural pressures and fears of social rejection mean certain crimes (such as rape) are often not reported in Egypt.”
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The United States ranks seventh on the list as one of the most dangerous countries for women. In its report, SafetyDetectives takes a deeper dive into the dangers for women in the United States, and the results are chilling. According to SafetyDetectives, one in three U.S. women fall victim to physical violence, rape and/or stalking by an intimate partner—and the figure is even higher for lesbian women, bisexual women, transgender people and women of color.
Coming in as the most dangerous country in the world for women: South Africa, which also topped 2019’s Women’s Danger Index. This is followed by Sweden at number 2 and El Salvador at number 3. Other countries with the highest reported crimes against women include Jamaica, Honduras and Guyana. New Zealand is also on the list of the 15 most dangerous countries.
According to SafetyDetectives, while the report is based on available data, the data is flawed in some ways. A chilling revelation: “It should be noted that data for crimes is based only on officially reported cases,” says Haun. “As these kinds of crimes often go unreported—from sexual abuse and sexual assault in the U.S. military to the murders of trans women—we can assume that the actual number of occurrences is higher in all countries.”
For instance, Sweden often ranks highly on other lists of the safest countries for women, but in its research, SafetyDetectives found that Sweden has the highest (reported) rape rate in Europe. “The fact that several other relatively safe countries like Norway, Australia and New Zealand also rank highly on this list suggests that reporting may be much more common there, or that the definition of rape is broader—and not necessarily that more crimes are committed—although further research would need to be done to confirm this,” says Haun.
Also important to note: “Just because a given country has laws in place to protect women, that doesn’t mean the laws are necessarily working,” says Haun. “They may not be enforced or followed—so while our ranking does provide insight into where women are safest on paper, it may not accurately reflect their actual safety. One example of this is Cambodia, where women are legally protected in theory, but much less so in reality.”
Read on for the top 15 safest countries for women, as well as the 15 most dangerous countries. You can also see the entire report here, which includes lists of the countries with the most and least favorable laws for women, women’s perceptions of safety, places where women are most afraid to walk alone at night and more.
Safest Countries for Women Travelers
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- United Arab Emirates
Most Dangerous Countries for Women Travelers
- South Africa
- El Salvador
- United States of America
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand