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Women's Health and Intimate Partner Violence against Women

Posted Oct 01 2008 10:28pm
While violence against women is recognized as a major health and economic problem, as well as a human rights issue, a lack of comparable and reliable data on root causes and magnitude has hindered public policy makers. In 1997, in order to collect such data, WHO initiated a study, the initial results of which were published last week as the “ WHO Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women ”. This report is based on interviews with 24, 000 women in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Namibia, Peru, Samoa, Serbia and Montenegro, Thailand, and Tanzania by carefully trained interviewers. (Countries in North America and Europe were not included as they had been the subject of previous studies.) It says the percentage of women reporting having been physically or sexually assaulted, or both, in their lifetime ranges from 15% in Japan to 71% in rural Ethiopia. Alarm was expressed at this figure in regard to the spread of HIV and Aids. ( See also this article.) It was discovered that violence was more prevalent in poorer countries and that women who lived there were more likely to think the violence was justified. Researcher Lori Heise said it was not clear what was behind the differences between richer and poorer countries, but many of the areas with higher rates were more rural, traditional communities where the problem had remained largely hidden: up to half of the women surveyed had never spoken of their situation to anyone. This report shows that research and policy on women’s health, and indeed promotion of women’s health, including psychological and reproductive health, must consider intimate partner sexual and physical violence against women.
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