GENEVA: More than one woman in three around the globe is a victim of domestic violence, with those in Asia and the Middle East most-affected by the scourge, the World Health Organisation said Thursday.

In what it billed as the first-ever systematic study of global data on the prevalence of violence against women and its health impact, the UN agency said 30 per cent worldwide faced such abuse at the hands of their partners.

“These to me are shocking statistics,” said Flavia Bustreo, head of the WHO's family, women's and children's health division.

“It's also shocking that this phenomenon cuts across the entire world,” she told reporters.

The WHO blamed taboos that prevent victims from coming forward, failings in medical and justice systems, and norms that mean men and women may see violence as acceptable.

The findings were extrapolated from figures provided by 81 countries which maintain data, and did not single out individual nations.

The scale of abuse was highest in Asia, where data from Bangladesh, East Timor, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand showed that 37.7 per cent of women were affected.

Next was the Middle East, where prevalence averaged at 37 per cent.

Sub-Saharan Africa followed, with 36.6 percent.

An average of 23.2 per cent were affected in a group of high-income countries including North America, the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

“These data really show the tremendous toll violence has on the health of women,” said Claudia Garcia-Moren, a WHO specialist on gender, reproductive rights, sexual health and adolescence.

Underlining the impact of such abuse, the WHO said that globally, 38 per cent of female murder victims were killed by their partners.

In addition, it said, violence also leaves scars long after bruises disappear and broken bones heal.

Women with a violent partner were twice as likely to suffer from depression and develop an alcohol problem, compared to women who did not experience abuse.

Victims of violence were also found to be far more likely to contract a range of sexually-transmitted diseases, from syphilis to HIV.

The study also flagged the higher likelihood of abused women having an unwanted pregnancy, an abortion, or an underweight baby -- and their children were more likely to become abusers or victims in adulthood.

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Comments (4)

Sagar Sohail
June 21, 2013 12:56 am

Shocking! More shocking are the statistics regarding 'developed' countries. Exploitation/oppression of women is an issue that plagues all the societies, cultures and religions. Being a male, I wonder how this (dominant) attitude can be routed out of the male psyche? Maybe (as Marx said) only financial empowerment of women would make some difference. This study is really disturbing as it brings to light an issue that has been there for so long and perhaps has no solution for a long time to come.

June 22, 2013 6:01 pm

Very sad and i personally after working with so many dont understad what is the solution. I dont believe education alone empowers women on the contrary it hides the problem. One automatically asumes that highly educated women or ones having high income dont undergo such problems. Solution lies in giving good values to your own children and in the society and the fact that justice comes to the cases that come to public or which come in front of the rest of the family. Similarly it is ok to not poke your nose into others homes for gossip but if its a crime one should believe it to be a duty to interfere or inform someone.

June 22, 2013 10:21 pm

Men are subject to domestic abuse as well. Mental & psychological torture, black mail are also domestic abuse. We must not ignore domestic abuse against men.

M S Sheikh
June 23, 2013 2:20 pm

Strange, the researchers have shied away from stating the fact that alcohol is a significant cause of violence against women/wife beating, euphemistically called domestic violence in the West. Perhaps this research is sponsored by some alcohol making concern.

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