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'70% married women abused'

Around two-third of married women in India between the age of 15 and 49 were victims of domestic violence including beating, rape or coerced sex and one incident of violence translates into women losing seven working days in the country, a UN report said.

india Updated: Oct 13, 2005 20:05 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Around two-third of married women in India were victims of domestic violence and one incident of violence translates into women losing seven working days in the country, a United Nations report said.

As many as 70 per cent of married women in India between the age of 15 and 49 are victims of beating, rape or coerced sex, the United Nation Population Fund report said.

However, the rate of domestic violence is much higher in Egypt with 94 per cent and Zambia with 91 per cent.

The report said violence against women was putting a huge strain on a nation's social and legal services and leads to heavy loss of productivity.

"In India, one incident of violence translates into the women losing seven working days. In the United States total loss adds up to 12.6 billion dollars annually and Australia loses 6.3 billion dollars per year," it said.

Noting that women with tangible economic assets were less likely to be victims of domestic violence than those who lack them, the report cited Kerala as an example.

"In Kerala, a survey found that 49 per cent women without property reported domestic violence compared with only seven per cent who owned property," it said.

The report also commended the Family Counseling Centers set up by Madhya Pradesh police department and supported by UNFPA, which provide legal services in cases violence related to dowry, harassment by in-laws, child marriage and rape.

The report said one in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime, one in three would have been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused usually by a family member or an acquaintance.

Despite efforts by governments and campaigns carried out by international organizations, violence against women continued on a wide scale in both developed and developing countries, the report said.

The report said women in several countries justify wife-beating for one reason or another.

The reasons include neglecting children, going out without telling partner, arguing with partner, refusing to have sex, not preparing food properly or on time and talking with other men, it said.

Overall, the report said, several governments have started taking action and enacting laws to fight the menace but their effect is limited because of deep-rooted social mores in several societies.

Violence, it said, kills and disables as many women between the ages of 15 and 44 as cancer and its toll on women's health surpasses that of traffic accidents and malaria combined.

The consequences of gender-based violence are devastating, including life-long emotional distress, mental health issues and poor reproductive health.

"Abused women are also at a higher risk of acquiring HIV," the report said adding that it puts burden on the healthcare system as they become long-term users of health services.

Besides, the effect might extend to future generation as children who see violence, or were victims themselves, often suffer a lasting psychological damage, it added.

First Published: Oct 13, 2005 20:05 IST