Women's Issues In Guyana

It makes you sick

Posted in Crimes against Women by wiig on November 26, 2005
Tags: , , ,

Stabroek News – November 26, 2005

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday published the results of a landmark study it conducted on domestic violence, which showed that it takes an enormous toll on the health and well-being of abused women around the world.

The study, which interviewed 24,000 women from ten countries, also found that even in war-torn countries and those with high rates of other crime women were more at risk from violence in the home than on the street. As a result, WHO Director-General, Dr Lee Jong-wook said at the launching of the report in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday that domestic violence should be treated as a major public health issue.

Titled ‘Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women’, the study reported that battered women were twice as likely to suffer poor health, physically and mentally, even if they had endured the violence years ago and had escaped it. The study found that although the women targeted were from rural and urban Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Namibia, Peru, Samoa, Serbia and Montenegro, Thailand, and the United Republic of Tanzania and were diverse in terms of ethnicity, economic status and culture, they reported the same symptoms of ill-health. These included suicidal thoughts and attempts, mental distress, and physical symptoms like pain, dizziness and vaginal discharge. The study also noted that domestic violence was known to affect women’s sexual and reproductive health and likely contributed to their increased risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Added to this, women frequently suffered broken bones, wounds and bruises as a direct result of violence. Pregnant women were not spared. “Although pregnancy is often thought of as a time when women should be protected, in most study locations, between 4% and 12% of women who had been pregnant reported being beaten during pregnancy. More than 90% of these women had been abused by the father of the unborn child and between one quarter and one half of them had been kicked or punched in the abdomen,” the study said.

Although laws have been enacted in many countries to curb domestic violence, it remains a deeply embedded problem. For example, it is reported that in the UK a woman is murdered by her current or ex-partner every three days. And according to UNICEF from country to country around the world 20-50 percent of women experience domestic violence. Therefore, while recommendations in the study call for action by policy makers and the public health sector; they also urge other measures, in recognition of the challenge to policy makers since much of the domestic abuse in the world remains hidden. (The study has found that women preferred to seek the support of family members, friends and neighbours and that statistically those who used formal services like the police and the courts tended to be the most severely abused.)

Among the interventions suggested in the report to change attitudes and challenge the inequities and social norms that perpetuate abuse are violence prevention programming into ongoing initiatives aimed at children, youth, HIV/AIDS, and sexual and reproductive health; training health care providers to identify women experiencing violence and to respond appropriately and raising awareness among the general public.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was observed yesterday with no hint of a decrease in the incidence of violence, 12 years after the United Nations adopted the declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in 1993 and ten years after the historic 1995 Beijing Conference on women made this one of its 12 strategic objectives. Can violence against women be eliminated? The same question might have been asked about slavery before and after the Abolition Act was passed in Britain in1833, but abolitionists never gave up the struggle and neither must we.


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