Most dangerous nations for women in 2018: US in top 10

A recent Reuters news article, Factbox: Which are the world’s 10 most dangerous countries for women? caught my attention. The results were the subject of a post at Feminist Philosophers blog, where I occasionally visit and even understand a bit, without being a philosopher nor much of a feminist.  I reacted with incredulity to the results.

United States is the 3rd most dangerous country for sexual violence

Sexual violence is defined by the survey:

“This includes rape as a weapon of war; domestic rape; rape by a stranger; the lack of access to justice in rape cases; sexual harassment and coercion into sex as a form of corruption.”

How often was rape used as a weapon of war in the United States in 2018?!

Yes, this Factbox article—based on investigative journalism funded, produced and published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation— reports that women in the US are more at risk of sexual violence than in Syria! The US is considered more dangerous for women than nations where female genital mutilation is common, and untreated obstetrical fistulas ruin lives.

Top 10
01 India
02 Democratic Republic of the Congo
03 USA
03 Syria
05 Congo
06 South Africa
07 Afghanistan
07 Pakistan
09 Mexico
10 Nigeria
10 Egypt
10 Somalia

India versus #MeToo

On the Foundation’s website, I did find a point of light, but bracketed by tragedy.  Near Mumbai, two adult men raped a 7 year-old girl as she waited for her parents to pick her up from school. The attack was so brutal that she required hospitalization, but will survive. The rapists were apprehended and are in custody.

The point of light is India’s Prime Minister Modi. He recently introduced the death penalty for acts of rape of girls under 12 years of age, in response to widespread public demand for such measures. Female children are 40% of the victims of all 40,000 rapes reported in India annually.

In contrast, #MeToo mostly involved women in America’s highest echelons of status and privilege.

two women and man laughing

Gwyneth Paltrow and Harvey Weinstein: Hillary Clinton political supporters

woman hugs smiling man

Gwyneth wins Academy Award (1999)

To suggest that #MeToo revealed conditions in the US that are comparable to the sexual violence of 16,000 child rapes in India is a harmful misrepresentation. Even comparison to the genuinely egregious #MeToo disclosures, e.g. of Congressmen who coerced sexual favors from their fully adult female staff members, is highly inappropriate. Yet the Thomson Reuters survey did not hesitate to do so:

“The survey came after the #MeToo campaign went viral last year, with thousands of women using the social media movement to share stories of sexual harassment or abuse.”

Non-sexual violence worse in US than Somalia

The survey defined non-sexual violence as “conflict-related violence; domestic, physical and mental abuse”.  These are the results.

Top 10
01 Afghanistan
02 Syria
03 India
04 Yemen
05 Pakistan
06 USA
07 Saudi Arabia
08 Democratic Republic of the Congo
09 Mexico
09 Somalia

The United States is deemed more dangerous for women than Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia.

I am surprised to see Mexico mentioned. Maybe that is due to Mexico’s porous northern border, as violence against women flows southward from the United States?

Immigration sanity check

According to the poll, Guatemala and Honduras are safer, less physically dangerous places for women than the United States. If that is true, then most of the requests for asylum in the US made by women and children fleeing these two countries have no justifiable basis!

If levels of domestic abuse, gang violence, and sexual victimization of women and children in the United States is greater than in El Salvador, then likelihood of harm would be increased—rather than alleviated— by seeking asylum in the US.

The source of these findings about comparative geographic danger to women is a highly respected news organization. Regardless, the results are flawed. Faulty polling methods and shoddy statistical analysis of responses are implausible culprits: A subject matter panel of over 500 experts in women’s rights provided the data from which the final results were derived. Although I wonder… who are these experts?

Blame falls on Reuters. Editorial oversight would have been in place throughout the project. The featured results would not have been released prior to vetting and final approval. This was not a minor mistake, but rather, a breach of Reuters published standards of accuracy and freedom from bias in journalism.

Why politically motivated surveys are bad

An unrelenting narrative that the United States is SO terrible has been running in the background for years. I have heard it since we invaded Iraq. During the Obama years, I think it was broadly referred to as the end of, or perhaps myth of American exceptionalism. Stridency and outrage is particularly acute now, under the Trump administration. I believe that warped perceptions, combined with agenda-driven media can result in grossly inaccurate investigative reports such as this.

Protecting women’s rights is important! Appeal to emotion (e.g. Trump Derangement Syndrome) should be resisted. Failure to recognize situational bias hurts the effectiveness of advocacy efforts. Regaining credibility is often elusive.

Methodology

I was disappointed at the lack of methodological detail provided, e.g. criteria to normalize results across disparate country populations and rates of violence. Who were the 548 experts? I will check for further details. Perhaps I will follow-up with a statistical survey design post if I can find more information.

Feminist Philosophers

A Thomson Reuters Foundation poll ranked the 10 most dangerous countries for women, based on the responses of experts. They considered gendered issues such as violence, healthcare, and economic access.

Here is a link to the reporting: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-women-dangerous-poll-factbox/factbox-which-are-the-worlds-10-most-dangerous-countries-for-women-idUSKBN1JM01Z

And here is a ranked list of the countries:

  1. India
  2. Afghanistan
  3. Syria
  4. Somalia
  5. Saudi Arabia
  6. Pakistan
  7. Democratic Republic of Congo
  8. Yemen
  9. Nigeria
  10. United States

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Published in: on July 2, 2018 at 7:40 am  Comments (3)  
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Taleb and the language of risk

Last night, I read about Nicholas Nassim Taleb on English Language and Usage StackExchange (EL&U). Professor Taleb wants to introduce a new word to the vocabulary of global financial collapse, antifragility:

So let us coin the appellation “antifragile” for anything that, on average, (i.e. in expectation) benefits from variability.

Consensus on EL&U was that this was a creative but unnecessary neologism. I echo the concerns of my EL&U comrades: Antifragility might cause confusion (maybe it is “anti-fragility”). There are many adequate, extant words that Taleb could use, however, antifragility is a term that will be uniquely associated with him.

I am not convinced that there are many entities that actually thrive due to uncertainty. A delta hedge that is long volatility is the only construct that I can think of off-hand. Perhaps that was what Taleb had in mind.

The original Black Swan

book cover of black swan with navy background

The Black Swan by Thomas Mann; 1954 UK First Edition

There was a slightly less contemporary black swan, the novella written by Nobel-prize winner Thomas Mann toward the end of his long and distinguished literary career.

The plot of that short fiction work also pertained to an anomalous event, one that could be considered a statistical outlier. (more…)

Published in: on February 1, 2012 at 6:28 am  Comments (8)  
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Economic Models for Turbulent Times Part 2

A new research study has already received unusual attention. The Network of Global Corporate Control [PDF] discovers a relatively small group of multinational companies with disproportionate influence over the global economy. The authors, a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, are supposedly the first to empirically identify such a network.

The problem is approached using mathematical models designed for capturing behavior of complex natural systems. The study applies this methodology to a large data set of corporate information, to map ownership among the world’s transnational corporations (TNCs). Previous studies reported that a few TNCs drive much of the global economy. However, they analyzed fewer companies. Due to limited data availability and computing resources, past studies did not consider the effect of indirect ownership.

Methodology

Orbis 2007, a repository of over 30 million private and public companies, published by Bureau van Dijk, was the data source. The study sample used the 43,060 largest TNCs, and derived the associated ownership linkages. The network structure was based on the relationships between shareholding interests, then weighted by each company’s operating revenue. This yielded a directional map of global economic power.

Quantitative results

The model revealed a core group with networked ownership, see image below. These 1,318 companies:

  • all had ties to at least two other companies in the core group
  • on average, were each connected to 20 other core group companies
  • represented 20% of all global operating revenues,
  • collectively owned the majority of the world’s largest blue chip and manufacturing firms:
  • in total, generated 60% of all global revenues.

(more…)

Published in: on November 20, 2011 at 4:28 am  Comments (2)  
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Risk perception and reality

This is an excerpt, selected by Moi, from the article Risk perception, a recent post that appeared on the Soapbox Science Blog, Nature Publishing Group.

Symbol of radiation hazard

Universal symbol of radiation and fear. Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes, no matter how right our perceptions feel, we get risk wrong. We worry about some things more than the evidence warrants (vaccines, nuclear radiation, genetically modified food), and less about some threats than the evidence warns (climate change, obesity, using mobile phones when we drive). That produces a Perception Gap, the gap between our fears and the facts.

The Perception Gap produces dangerous personal choices that hurt us and those around us (declining vaccination rates are fueling the resurgence of nearly eradicated diseases). It causes the harm to health of chronic stress (for those who worry more than necessary). And it produces social policies that protect us more from what we’re afraid of than from what in fact threatens us the most (we spend more to protect ourselves from terrorism than heart disease)… which in effect raises our overall risk.

We do have to fear fear itself…too much or too little. So we need to understand how our subjective risk perception works, in order to recognize and avoid its pitfalls.

Here was the take-away for me: Societal risk management has to recognize the risk of risk misperception–  recognizing the risk that arises when our fears don’t match the evidence. This is truly the risk of The Perception Gap. It has always been relevant, and becomes so once again in light of the recent E-coli outbreak in northern Europe. The Guardian UK used that as a starting point for a well-written and up-to-date article about the hazards of risk misperception and the consequences of irrational behavior.

Kahneman and Tversky did extensive research on this topic. I am not concerned whether articles like the one referenced above are derivative, in the sense of revisiting past work. Possibly it is an application in the context of current events. Or it may be entirely original new work. My concern is solely that there is an awareness of the reality, and that it be acted upon.

Political Risk Exposure and Social Media

URL shortening was rarely seen anywhere other than micro-blogging platforms such as Twitter and Status Net’s identi.ca. Shortened URL’s are not prudent from an information security point-of-view, as one takes a leap of faith by clicking on a link that is not descriptive. Descriptive links are also preferable for economic reasons, as they are reputed to figure positively in the mysterious world of search engine optimization (SEO) for page rank.

Yet shortened URL’s are gaining acceptance. They are very convenient.

Coat of arms of Libya public domain image

Libyan Hawk of Qureish via Wikipedia

Twitter introduced its own shortening service in September. Facebook did too. Google provided URL shortening with its goo.gl product in December 2009. Google expanded the range of goo.gl for use on any domain, as it was restricted for use with Google product pages before October. However, there is a new and surprising consideration when making a case for, or against, URL shortening: Political risk exposure.

Top-level domains (TLD’s) are assigned by ICANN. Generally speaking, each sovereign nation has its own TLD. For example, websites registered in Australia use the .au suffix, German sites are .de , while Japanese sites are .jp . The Libyan Government is the official registrar, as designated by ICANN in 2005, for all .ly sites, which are also the domain-of-choice for leading URL shortening services bit.ly , ow.ly and vb.ly .  What will be the consequences of Libya’s domain seizure of vb.ly on October 6, reported by Econsultancy- When All Your Shortlinks Belong to the Libyan Government, on these .ly URLs?

RowFeeder is a social media oriented web analytics service. It stands out from the glut of other Twitter-verse services by delivering reports directly to a spreadsheet. In the RowFeeder company site’s latest post, lead developer and co-founder Damon Cortesi described a new feature for RowFeeder customers: availability of URL shortener bit.ly.

URL shortener feature for RowFeeder service

RowFeeder Offers URL Shortening with bit.ly

You can now put a bit.ly link in the tracking field, and have a new column in your downloads with bit.ly click counts at the time of each post… [storing] the click data along with the Tweets and Facebook posts about a specific piece of content.

In light of the recent disruption in the .ly domain space, I enjoyed the closing lines of the announcement:

Please note: This feature has not been approved by the Libyan government, so count clicks at your own risk. Our vb.ly integration is on hold pending recent news.

*Emphasis is NOT mine.

Published in: on November 14, 2010 at 10:06 pm  Comments (3)  
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Evolution Robotics

Bias is bad. My prior post could be misconstrued as pejorative commentary, unfairly targeted at Tweetup, an innocuous, and free-of-charge, client application for users of the Twitter micro-blogging service.  Twitter certainly is responsible for the silly avian-themed jargon that is steadily seeping into common vernacular, undermining my ability to sound impressive when pretentiously blathering away, as I’m doing right now. However, Idealab, the owners of the Tweetup social influence metric software did not create the Cult of the 140 Character communication standard.

Tweetup is actually one of many applications, services and bona fide products offered by holding entity Idealab.  This Pasadena, California based company has a refreshingly original and diverse assortment of creative product offerings. In fact, Idealab is no parvenu, having existed as a going concern since the 1990’s, all the while fostering an impressive  range of mostly feasible technical innovations.

Supermarket Loss Control by Evolution Robotics

Supermarket Loss Control by Evolution Robotics

I was quickly riveted by the Idealab site’s video demo of their TunnelHawk system. TunnelHawk’s design imperative is to mitigate retail store losses due to customer and employeee theft.  To make clear that I am not predisposed against Idealab (in the aftermath of my earlier Tweetup monetization tirade), I am featuring a product video of IdeaLab’s clever response to supermarket petty theft,  the robotically driven TunnelHawk supermarket checker.

Idealab: Evolution Robotics Retail TunnelHawk Video.

Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 7:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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