— Anger over corruption has sparked mass demonstrations and even toppled governments in the past few years. But a global study published Wednesday by Transparency International finds the problem remains widespread.
In Pakistan, teacher Bashir Bulti says it takes a bribe to get a job.
Cambodian motorcycle taxi driver Chum Van says police sometimes put the blame for accidents on poor people, regardless of who is at fault.
Pakistan and Cambodia are among 176 nations studied by the anti-corruption group Transparency International.
The group's Huguette Labelle says a majority of countries have a serious corruption problem. “This translates into human suffering, with poor families being extorted to pay bribes to see doctors or get access to clean drinking water," he said.
She warns that major infrastructure projects in emerging nations, and the work needed to cope with climate change, could be hurt by corruption. Labelle sees hope in some nations where new laws make it easier for the public to track government spending and offer some protections for people who raise corruption allegations.
Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan received the worst ratings, while Denmark, Finland and New Zealand were rated as the least corrupt countries.
The United States was 19 places behind the best rating, while China placed 80th, and India 94th.
Complaints about corruption helped spark the Arab Spring uprisings, as massive protests and other actions toppled governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
But the report shows even the drastic step of changing government has not ended corruption.
Scholar Robin Wright at the Woodrow Wilson Center is not surprised.
“Bakshish is a concept that is central to the way of life in the Middle East, bakshish being bribes. And that hasn’t changed overnight with the introduction of democratic ideals or goals. A Libyan businessman said we used to have one Qaddafi. Now we have 6 million," she said.
Scholar Charles Kenny of the Center for Global Development says corruption takes many forms, like using a bribe to get a driver's license, job or contract for an unqualified person.
He calls corruption a symptom of poor government, and says bringing the issue to public and official attention will help - eventually. “These changes take changes in norms of behavior, and attitudes across millions of people in the country, so they take time," he said.
Kenny says corruption causes problems for business when money is diverted into an official’s pocket instead of being spent on roads or energy projects.
Nigerian tailor Ukudi Nawa blames corruption for a faulty public electric supply. She says customers become angry when she raises her prices to cover the cost of fuel for a backup generator. “So that really has a negative impact of my business because it makes me spend more," he said.
Transparency International bases its annual report on perceptions of corruption on multiple sources of information from businesses, international organizations, and experts around the world.
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