According to the Travel Industry Association, about 32 million American women travel solo in a year. Whether traveling alone or in a group, safety is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, many countries around the world are dangerous for female travelers. Some highly-publicized incidents, such as the 26-year-old German backpacker who was brutally murdered in Thailand or the two Scandinavian women beheaded in Morocco have exemplified the dangers that women face when traveling abroad in certain countries.
In an attempt to determine which countries are the most dangerous for female travelers, husband and wife journalists Asher and Lyric Fergusson studied and ranked the 50 most popular tourist countries. Their Women’s Danger Index ranked each country based on eight factors: street safety for wojmen, intentional homicide of women, non-partner sexual violence, intimate partner sexual violence, legal discrimination, global gender gap, gender inequality index, and violence against women attitudes.
South Africa is the most dangerous country in the world for solo female travelers. Only 25% of South African women said they felt safe walking alone at night, the lowest of any country. South Africa is notorious for sexual violence. It is estimated that over 40% of South African women will be raped in their lifetime. Additionally, South Africa ranked the worst for the intentional homicide of women. South Africa was the only country to receive an “F” on the index.
Brazil ranks as the second-most dangerous country for women. Only 28% of women reported feeling safe walking alone at night and the country has the third-highest rate of intentional homicide against women. Brazil also ranked sixth for the percentage of women who have experienced physical or sexual violence from their intimate partners at 36.9%. Russia has the second-highest rate of intentional homicide against women, which is the biggest reason for its third-place spot on the list. Russia also ranks as one of the top ten countries to have laws and regulations that limit women’s ability to participate in society and economy.
Mexico ranks fourth overall for the most dangerous countries for women, as well as ranking fourth for the percentage of women who feel safe walking at night and for intentional homicide against women. Only about 33% of women in Mexico reported feeling safe walking alone at night. Additionally, Mexico ranks third for non-partner sexual violence, which about 16% of women experience. Iran’s place on the most dangerous country list is largely due to its first-place ranking for the gender gap. This index measures disparities between men and women in economic participation, educational attainment, health, and political empowerment. Additionally, Iran ranked third for legal discrimination against women.
The Dominican Republic has the fifth-lowest percentage of women who feel safe walking alone at night, at 33%, and the fifth-highest rate of intentional homicide against women. The Dominican Republic also ranks sixth for gender inequality, which measures health, empowerment, and the labor market. Egypt is the seventh-most dangerous country for female travelers. Egypt has the fourth-highest global gender gap and the seventh-highest gender inequality. Only 47% of women reported feeling safe walking alone at night. Additionally, Egypt ranks sixth for laws and regulations that limit women’s ability to participate in society and the economy.
About 45% of Moroccan women experience physical or sexual violence from their intimate partner, the highest percentage on the list. About 32% of women agree that violence against women is justified under certain circumstances, the tenth-highest of the countries ranked. Additionally, Morocco ranks tenth for legal discrimination against women. As the ninth-most dangerous country for women, India ranks fifth for intimate partner violence, which is 37.2%. According to the gender inequality index, India ranks first. About 45% of Indian women surveyed agreed that a husband or partner is justified in beating their wife or partner under certain circumstances. Finishing the top ten most dangerous countries for women is Thailand. Thailand ranks second for intimate partner violence, which about 44% of women reported. Additionally, about 61% of women agreed that violence against women is justified under certain circumstances, the highest among the 50 countries studied.
On the opposite end, the following ten countries are the safest for women: Spain, Singapore, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Portugal, Croatia, Canada, and Poland. For the full list of countries and their rankings, see the table below.
Women's Danger Index
Non-Partner Sexual Violence
Intimate Partner Sexual Violence
Global Gender Gap
Attitudes Toward Violence
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According to the most recent data, South Africa is the least safe country for women in the world.