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One in 6 women suffers from domestic violence -WHO
Thu 24 Nov 2005 3:59 AM ET
By Patricia Reaney
LONDON, Nov 24 (Reuters) - One woman lost twins after being hit in the stomach by the father of her unborn babies, another sleeps in a locked bedroom to protect herself from the partner who has threatened to shoot her.
They are among the one in 6 women worldwide who suffer from domestic violence. In some communities up to 2 in 3 females have been harmed by their husband, live-in partner or boyfriend, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) study.
"Society has condoned this for far too long," said Joy Phumaphi, assistant director-general of Family and Community Health at the WHO.
"It is also very, very clear from the study that a large number of women do not report this. One fifth of them do not share the information, at all, with anybody," she told Reuters.
The report, based on interviews with 24,000 women in 10 countries ranging from Japan and Thailand to Namibia and Peru, is the first comprehensive global study to assess the extent of domestic violence, its effect on women and the response by governments and communities.
It paints a harrowing picture of broken bones, bruises, burns, cracked skulls, dislocated jaws, rape and fear. Often the cycle is repeated from one generation to the next.
"A child that is brought up in an environment where there is domestic violence tends to accept it as the norm and they will then practise it," said Phumaphi.
NOWHERE TO GO
Many women do not report domestic violence because they consider it normal. Others fear they will lose their children, or be shamed. In many cases the authorities view it as a private matter and do not want to get involved.
Between 4 and 12 percent of women who had been pregnant reported being beaten during pregnancy-- more than 90 percent by the father of the unborn child, according to the report.
"They have nowhere to go. All doors are closed to them. A lot of women feel so cornered they suffer mental illness. A lot of them end up attempting suicide and some of them are successful," said Phumaphi.
The countries covered in the 7-year study also include Samoa, Brazil, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Tanzania and Serbia and Montenegro.
The report shows that victims of domestic violence are twice as likely to suffer from ill health as other women.
"This is a huge global health burden," said Phumaphi.
Although a worldwide problem, domestic violence is more prevalent in poorly educated populations in low-income countries, according to the report.
It can be sparked by dinner being late, not finishing the housework on time, disobeying or refusing to have sex. Usually it involves men trying to stamp their authority on women.
In many cases women agree that a man is justified in beating his wife under certain circumstances.
Phumaphi said governments need to recognise domestic violence is a problem and to pass tough laws against it.
"What we want to accomplish is to take domestic violence out of the closet, to have it accepted as a public health challenge," she said. "The steps that need to be taken have to be tough."
WHO report on domestic violence
Thu 24 Nov 2005 3:59 AM ET
LONDON, Nov 24 (Reuters) - A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) based on surveys of 24,000 women in 10 countries shows one in 6 women have suffered from domestic violence.
Following are key facts and figures from the first global report on women harmed by their husbands, partners or boyfriends.
* Violence against women is common, widespread and far-reaching. It is the most common form of violence in women's lives -- more than assault or rape by strangers or acquaintances.
* In the representative sample of countries included in the report the percentage of women who suffered physical violence ranged from 13 percent in Japan to 61 percent in Peru.
* Slapping was the most common form of physical abuse, followed by being punched in the face. But more than half the cases of domestic violence in the report were regarded as severe, which includes being kicked, dragged, threatened with a weapon or attacked with a weapon.
* Most acts of physical violence reflect a pattern of continuing abuse.
* Between 4-12 percent of all women who had been pregnant reported being beaten during pregnancy -- more than 90 percent by the father of the unborn child. Between a quarter and a half were kicked in the stomach.
* One in 11 women who have been abused by their partners attempt suicide.
* Between 21-66 percent of abused women find it difficult to speak about the experience or seek help. The most common reason for not seeking help was that they considered the violence normal or not serious.
* Acceptance of wife beating was higher among women who had experienced abuse than in those who had not.
WHO Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women
Initial results on prevalence, health outcomes and women's responses