If you’re ever at a party and you hear someone say that the fight for gender equality has been won and things are great for women in 2015, switch off the music, turn on the lights and force the guests to watch a few minutes of BBC3’s World’s Worst Place to be a Woman. Ok, you may not be invited to a social gathering ever again, but you’ll have proven how profoundly untrue that statement is.
Because Dooley’s travels to Honduras, the most dangerous country on the planet outside a war zone, show how women still suffer for simply being women. With so many females butchered and killed each year in the Central American country, the act has been given it’s own name – femicide. As the drug wars rage on between gangs, a culture of violence has bled its way from the streets, into the home.
Omar, a man jailed for brutally murdering his wife with a machete, tells Dooley that he killed her because she disobeyed him by going to work, and not cooking or cleaning enough. “If she had behaved better she wouldn’t have forced me to do this,” he says matter-of-factly.
Trying to glean some insight into this truly astonishing mindset, Dooley asks a group of inmates, “tell me why you think so many men are violent towards women in Honduras?”
“Because men don’t like it when their chicks cheat on them,” replies one man.
“Let me tell you something, when a woman shows up dead it’s because she’s done something,” says another.
This nightmarish world where jealous men butcher their wives is made all the more chilling by the fact that the murderers often go unpunished. Dooley meets Theresa Munoz, the mother of Miss Honduras beauty queen Maria Jose Alvaro and her sister Sofia, who were both shot dead by Sofia’s boyfriend Plutarco at a party.
In a fit of jealousy about his girlfriend talking to another man, he took the sisters’ lives in the middle of a pool party with 30 people looking on. Yet the killer’s position as a drug dealer with powerful connections has meant that nobody is willing to testify. He may well walk free.
One of the most astounding moments in the film is when Dooley comes face to face with a woman who not only suffers violence from men, but also kills other vulnerable women caught up in the drug wars. She tried to escape poverty by joining a gang, and is now forced to murder others in order to stay alive. “Sure you feel bad, and the worst part is when the women scream ‘don’t kill the kids’. There’s nothing to do, work’s work. You have to do what they say otherwise you die.'”
The BBC3 film’s access to people on every side of the story is one of the things that makes it so compelling. By the end, you’re left feeling unutterably grateful that you live in Britain, however flawed it may be.
An expectant mother in a Honduran maternity ward sums up the situation in a sad, understated way. She was raped at the age of 15 and forced to keep the baby because having an abortion or taking the Morning After pill would land her in prison.
She hopes she gives birth to a boy, because “us girls suffer more”.
World’s Worst Place for a Woman?” Stacey Dooley Investigates is on Monday 26th October at 9pm